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March 18, 2010
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA requests comments on Direct Final Rule and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to protect workers from exposure to hexavalent chromium

WASHINGTON -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is publishing for public comment a direct final rule requiring employers to notify workers of exposures to hexavalent chromium. OSHA is responding to the Third Circuit Court's decision that the agency failed to explain why it departed from the proposed rule that would require notifying workers of all hexavalent chromium exposures. Workers exposed to this toxic chemical are at greater risk for lung cancer and damage to the nose, throat and respiratory tract.

OSHA currently requires employers to alert workers only when they experience hexavalent chromium exposures exceeding the permissible exposure level. After reviewing the issue, OSHA decided to make hexavalent chromium consistent with other OSHA standards on hazardous substances such as lead and arsenic that require worker notification of all exposures, whether above or below the limit.

"Hexavalent chromium is a dangerous chemical and exposure can lead to serious adverse health effects," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. "With this new notification requirement, employers are now required to provide more information to workers that help them identify and reduce their own exposure to toxic chemicals."

OSHA will accept public comments on the Direct Final Rule and companion Notice of Proposed Rulemaking until April 16, 2010. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will go into effect if the agency receives significant adverse comments within 30 days of publication. This will allow the agency to continue the rulemaking as a "Notice and Comment" rulemaking. The Direct Final Rule will take effect June 15, 2010, if no significant adverse comments are received.

Those interested in submitting comments can submit them through the Federal eRulemaking Port