The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published in today’s edition of the Federal Register a proposed rule (pdf) that revises the notification requirements in the exposure determination provisions of the standards for hexavalent chromium (“Cr(VI)”). A direct final rule will be published in tomorrow’s edition. Specifically, the proposal would require employers to notify employees of the results of all exposure determinations, whether or not exposure exceeds the permissible exposure limit (PEL). Currently, the exposure determination provision of the chromium standard requires employers to determine the 8-hour time-weighted-average exposure for each employee exposed to Cr(VI), and notify employees exposed to levels that exceed the PEL. Under the general industry standard, notice has to be provided within 15 work days. For construction and maritime employees, employers must provide notice within 5 work days.
The proposed change to the notification requirements is a result a lawsuit filed against the Agency – Public Citizen Health Research Group v. Dept. of Labor, 557 F.3d 165 (3d Cir. 2009) – in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit directed OSHA to either explain why it decided to limit its employee notification requirements, or take other appropriate action with respect to that part of the standard. After further review, OSHA decided to expand the exposure notification requirement to include all levels of exposure, whether at or below the PEL.
OSHA is publishing this proposed rule along with a companion direct final rule, so unless significant comments are made to the proposal, the final rule will take effect. If a significant adverse comment is received, OSHA will publish a withdrawal of the direct final rule.
Comments to this proposal must be identified by Docket No. OSHA-H054a-2006-0064, and be submitted by April 15, 2010. Written comments may be sent by regular or express mail, or by hand-delivery to OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. OSHA-H054a-2006-0064 or RIN No. 1218-AC43, Technical Data Center, Room N-2625, OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20210. In the alternative, comments 10 pages or fewer may be sent via facsimile to the OSHA Docket Office at (202) 693-1648. Copies of attachments to the comments transmitted by fax can be sent to the OSHA Docket Office at the above address. Comments may also be made electronically at the federal eRulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
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