Washington, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor`s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently signed an agreement with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA), the Public Citizen Health Research Group (HRG) and the United Steelworkers International Union of Industrial and Service Workers (Steelworkers), Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers( Steelworkers). This agreement governs NAM and SSINA`s challenge to OSHA`s hexavalent chromium standard (NAM et al.c. OSHA, 3d Cir Docket Nos. 06-2272, and Consolidated Cases). However, Riegel anticipates that OSHA and NAM will eventually discuss the associations` concerns and may reach an agreement outside the courtroom. «This agreement sets the tone for the kind of relationship we are looking for with NAM, other industry leaders and all employers,» said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. «This shows that we can work together to achieve the common goal of worker safety and health.» The settlement agreement will be published in the Federal Register within the next 30 days. Kathryn M. McMahon-Lohrer, Esquire Kelley Drye Collier Shannon Washington Harbour, Suite 400 3050 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20007-5108 Dear Ms.
McMahon-Lohrer: Thank you for your request to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on behalf of the National Association of Manufacturers and the Specialty Steel Industry of North America. They asked about OSHA`s final rule for occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium (Federal Register, Vol. 71, No. 39, February 28, 2006). Your request specifically relates to the General Standard for Industrial Chromium (VI), 29 CFR 1910.1026. This letter represents only OSHA`s interpretations of the requirements discussed and may not apply to issues not raised in your initial application, but OSHA`s interpretations in this case also apply to Bauchrom (VI), 29 CFR 1926.1126, and Shipyard Chromium (VI), 29 CFR 1915.1026. Your paraphrased questions and our answers can be found below. Question 1: You expressed concern about the ability of employers to find viable engineering and/or work practices that reduce exposure to hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) below the standard Permissible Exposure Limit Value (ELP) of 5 g/m3 (see 29 CFR 1910.1026(c)) for employees welding stainless steel in confined or enclosed spaces. Answer: As you know, the Chromium(VI) standard requires employers to use engineering controls and work practice controls as the primary means of reducing and maintaining employee exposure to Cr(VI) below the ELP. However, if such controls are not feasible, the employer may put in place technical and practical controls to reduce exposure to the lowest possible level, and then supplement these controls with respiratory protection to achieve the ELP. (See 29 CFR 1910.1026(f)(1)). OSHA`s preference for engineering controls and work practices is consistent with good occupational hygiene practices, OSHA`s experience in ensuring workers have a healthy workplace, and the agency`s traditional adherence to a hierarchy of controls.
Respirators are less reliable than technical controls and work exercise controls and can weigh on employees with their own safety and health risks. Evidence developed during the DEVELOPMENT OF THE CR(VI) RULES suggests that VIABLE ENGINEERING CONTROLS AND WORK PRACTICES ARE OFTEN INSUFFICIENT OR IMPRACTICAL TO REDUCE EXPOSURES TO CR(VI) BELOW PEL FOR EMPLOYEES PERFORMING WELDING OR OTHER HOT WORK ON STAINLESS STEEL IN NARROW OR SIMILAR ENCLOSED SPACES.1 Welding stainless steel generally results in higher levels of due to the higher chromium content in stainless steel alloy. Exposures to Cr(VI) as carbon steel welding. In addition, employees who weld in confined and enclosed spaces are often exposed to higher concentrations of total welding fumes and, as a result, their total exposure to Cr(VI) tends to be higher than in open spaces. And finally, the use of engineering controls (such as.B. local ventilation of exhaust air) and the welder`s ability to minimize exposure by adjusting the position of his body are often limited by the space constraints of limited and closed sites. Therefore, for welders working on stainless steel in confined and enclosed spaces, OSHA will assume that employers comply with the «Compliance Methods» section of the Chrome (VI) standard when applying technical and work practice controls to the extent possible and supplementing these controls with respirators to comply with the ELP. Note that this does not relieve employers of obligations under the confined space standard required by OSHA`s permit in 29 CFR 1910.146. Question 2: You asked whether an employer must comply with cleaning and disposal regulations under 29 CFR 1910.1026(j) if hexavalent chromium is not produced in the plant under the intended conditions of use during employee exposures equal to or greater than 0.5 g/m3. Answer: The scope section of the chromium(VI) standard provides that the standard applies to occupational exposures to Cr(VI) in all its forms and compounds, but excludes any situation from detection: «If the employer has objective data demonstrating that a chromium-containing material or process, a particular process or activity with chromium cannot release dust, Chromium (VI) vapours or mists at concentrations equal to or greater than 0.5 g/m3 on a time-weighted average (TWA) over 8 hours under all intended conditions of use. «29 CFR 1910.1026(a)(4).
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