South Carolina OSHA's Revised Standards for Hexavalent Chromium and Steel Erection

On June 28, 2010, the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation held a public hearing to revise and amend existing health and safety standards for 29 CFR parts 1910 and 1926, as necessary to comply with federal laws.

The hearing included revising the employee notification standards for hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) monitoring for general industry and construction and technical amendments to the steel erection standard for construction.

Revised subpart(s) 1910.1026(d)(4)(i) and 1926.1126(d)(4)(i) require employers to notify employees of all hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) exposure determinations regardless of whether they are above or below the permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 5 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3). Under the revised rules, notice has to be provided within 15 working days for general industry and within 5 working days for construction. The effective date for compliance with the new notification standards is July 23, 2010.

OSHA is not changing any of the monitoring or exposure characterization requirements in the final standard. The amended notification provision, when compared to the standard as originally promulgated, will simply require employers to post more names or send more individual notices after exposure determinations are made.

Monitoring and medical surveillance requirements serve to reduce residual risks from potential hexavalent chromium exposure that remains below the PEL. OSHA believes that this amendment to the notification requirement will, in addition to the other ancillary requirements, further reduce the risk of health impairment associated with Cr(VI) exposures below 5µg/m3.

South Carolina OSHA also adopted a technical amendment which adds a non mandatory note to standards governing steel erection. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations generally require employers involved in National Highway System construction projects to comply with a number of standards, policies and standard specifications published by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), among other organizations.

Upon investigation of a fatal accident involving a bridge construction project in Colorado in 2004, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that there was insufficient design and installation of the temporary bracing system for the bridge girders involved. In response, OSHA added a note to 1926.754 that provides consensus standard information as a resource for employers with projects involving employees working on or near structural steel elements used in highway construction. A technical amendment to Subpart R, Section 1926.754 for the safety standards governing steel erection for construction, adds no additional duty for compliance. The note to 29 CFR 1926.754(a), informs construction employers of the Federal Highway Administration requirements.

Additional information on these or any other S.C. OSHA standards may be found on our websites at http://www.llr.state.sc.us or http://www.osha.gov/ or by contacting our Standards Office during regular working hours at (803)796-7682 or (803)796-7661.