Friday, 31 March 2006 17:00

Controversy arises over new permissible exposure limit

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new standards to the existing standards that limit workplace exposure to hexavalent chromium. It has been determined by OSHA that the current level of hexavalent chromium that workers are exposed to puts workers at a significant health risk. 

The Automotive Service Association (ASA) has expressed concern about the lowering of the permissible level because of the lack of data as to the potential economic impact the lower level will have on the collision industry. Collision shop employees use many refinishing products in their shops where they are also exposed as they sand, grind and weld vehicle parts. Each of these procedures presents the opportunity for hexavalent chromium to exist.

Hexavalent chromium is a metal shown to cause cancer in some workers exposed to it. Evidence demonstrates that workers exposed to hexavalent chromium are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer, asthma, skin damage and destruction of nasal epithelia. More than 500,000 Americans are exposed to the cancer-causing metal. These Americans include steel workers, welders, chrome platers, and paint and pigment manufacturers.

Currently workers associated with hexavalent chromium are permitted, by law, to be exposed to 1 milligram of the hexavalent chromium for every 10 cubic meters of air. The new limit will only allow workers to be exposed to 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Although a significant drop in level of exposure, the level is still five times higher than that originally presented by OSHA in 2004, which pales in light of that proposed by worker safety activists who called for such low levels of exposure that saw the final regulation 20 times higher.

"ASA is concerned about the requirement of regulated areas where workers would be provided personal protective equipment, washing facilities and changes of clothes. Extensive medical monitoring of workers is also required," said Bob Redding, ASA's Washington, D.C., representative. "We are troubled by the lack of data as to worker exposure in collision shops. We will need to work closely with OSHA to determine specifically what shops will be obligated to provide."

OSHA has acknowledged that the new limit will still allow between 10 and 45 deaths from lung cancer for every 1,000 workers exposed to the harmful particles. These deaths will occur over a 45-year period. OSHA went on to defend its stance by also reporting that as many as 145 deaths caused by lung cancer will be prevented due to the new exposure standards.

The final regulation can be viewed at www.TakingTheHill.com .


KEYS program to debut

ASA has launched a new education and training initiative - Keep Educating Yourself and Staff (KEYS). Through an ongoing series of regional training events, the KEYS program will deliver quality management education and technical training to automotive service professionals.

The three-day KEYS events will offer three technical sessions taught by the nation's leading instructors. The events will also contain four management seminars, allowing attendees to receive credits toward the Accredited Automotive Manager (AAM) designation offered through the Automotive Management Institute (AMI). Designed to be convenient for attendees, the KEYS event format will include weekend sessions beginning on Friday afternoons and concluding midday Sunday.

"Today, shop owners and their employees are constantly challenged to succeed in an ever-changing business environment and to stay current with the advancements of automotive technology," said Bill Haas, AAM, ASA's vice president of education and training. "The delivery of management education and technical training through the KEYS program will afford automotive professionals more opportunities to further their education. KEYS will offer automotive professionals solutions to the many challenges they face each day."

Both members and nonmembers are eligible to register for ASA's KEYS events. For more information about the KEYS program including a location schedule, courses and online registration, visit www.asashop.org/keys or call (800) 272-7467, ext. 246.

"ASA has positioned itself as a premier resource for information and education. The KEYS program further emphasizes ASA's commitment to industry education and training," concluded Haas.


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