Southern Metal Finishing

Re: OSHA Final Ruling on PEL

This article was published in the March 06 issue of Southern Metal Finishing. If you would like register to receive our free newsletter and review our online archives please visit

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) amended the existing standard which limits occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)). OSHA has determined based upon the best  evidence currently available that at the current permissible exposure limit (PEL) for Cr(VI), workers face a significant risk to material impairment of their health. The evidence in the record for this rulemaking indicates that workers exposed to Cr(VI) are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. The record also indicates that occupational exposure to Cr(VI) may result in asthma, and damage to the nasal epithelia and skin.

The final rule establishes an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) exposure limit of 5 micrograms of Cr(VI) per cubic meter of air (5 [mu]g/m3). This is a considerable reduction from the previous PEL of 1 milligram per 10 cubic meters of air (1 mg/10 m3, or 100 [mu]g/m3) reported as CrO3, which is equivalent to a limit of 52 [mu]g/m3 as Cr(VI). The final rule also contains ancillary provisions for worker protection such as requirements for exposure determination, preferred exposure control methods, including a compliance alternative for a small sector for which the new PEL is infeasible, respiratory protection, protective clothing and equipment, hygiene areas and practices, medical surveillance, recordkeeping, and start-up dates that include four years for the implementation of engineering controls to meet the PEL.
The final standard separately regulates general industry, construction, and shipyards in order to tailor requirements to the unique circumstances found in each of these sectors.

The PEL established by this rule reduces the significant risk posed to workers by occupational exposure to Cr(VI) to the maximum extent that is technologically and economically feasible.

DATES: This final rule becomes effective on May 30, 2006. Start-up dates for specific provisions are set in Sec.  1910.1026(n) for general industry; Sec.  1915.1026(l) for shipyards; and Sec.  1926.1126(l) for construction. However, affected parties do not have to comply with the information collection requirements in the final rule until the Department of Labor publishes in the Federal Register the control numbers assigned by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Publication of the control numbers notifies the public that OMB has approved these information collection requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

ADDRESSES: In compliance with 28 U.S.C. 2112(a), the Agency designates the Associate Solicitor for Occupational Safety and Health, Office of the Solicitor, Room S-4004, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210, as the recipient of petitions for review of these standards.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Kevin Ropp, Director, OSHA Office of Communications, Room N-3647, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20210; telephone (202) 693-1999.