Portland cement and concrete production, and related construction activities, are exempted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s final
Portland cement and concrete production, and related construction activities, are exempted from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s final rule for managing workplace exposure to the compound hexavalent chromium. In the proposed rule published in October 2004, OSHA had exempted portland cement from the construction sector, but failed to do so in the other two major OSHA-regulated sectors, notably general industry and maritime. Any source of hexavalent chromium other than portland cement is regulated in all sectors. Effective May 28, the final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit from 52 to 5 g/m as an eight-hour, time-weighted average.
Through an RMC Research Foundation grant, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association provided OSHA with results of a contemporary inhalation survey for ready mixed concrete production. On behalf of a coalition representing concrete and construction interests, representatives from NRMCA, National Concrete Masonry Association and Portland Cement Association met with OSHA officials throughout the rule-making process. In discussion of the final rule, the agency conceded, Placing wet cement within the scope of the standard would cost an additional $33 million per year for compliance with such provisions as initial monitoring; those costs would be incurred even if the employer has no airborne exposures. Industry estimates, however, held that the initial monitoring costs would be closer to $50 million annually.
In a discussion of its final standard, OSHA likewise explained that it had proposed to exclude exposures to portland cement in the construction industry because of data indicating that airborne exposures to hexavalent chromium in construction activities involving portland cement were very low and posed little lung cancer risk.