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OSHA Cites Carson Helicopters For Exposing Workers To Hexavalent Chromium
By Jim Douglas

June 18, 2013 - The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Carson Helicopters for eight alleged serious violations, including exposing its workers to hazards involving hexavalent chromium, at the company's facility in Perkasie, PA.

Carson Helicopters is an FAA approved helicopter repair station that provides overhaul, repair and manufacturing of all major model helicopters. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $40,500 after a December 2012 inspection of the facility was launched because of a complaint.

OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) for airborne exposures to hexavalent chromium is 0.005 mg/m3 and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health proposed a recommended exposure limit (REL) is 0.2 µg/m3 for airborne exposures to hexavalent chromium.


The violations include spray booths containing combustible floor lining, no air flow measuring devices or fire extinguisher systems, exposure to hexavalent chromium above the permissible exposure limits, a lack of engineering controls to reduce exposures and a lack of a medical program for workers exposed to hexavalent chromium, as well as a monitoring program for workers exposed to hexavalent chromium.

The company also failed to ensure the use of proper respiratory protection for workers while painting; ensure there was a regulated area where exposure to hexavalent chromium was above the permissible exposure level; provide training on the hazards of hexavalent chromium exposure; provide storage areas separating street clothes from contaminated clothing; and keep eating and drinking areas free of hexavalent chromium.

Hexavalent chromium is used for hardenability and corrosion resistance, the compounds are genotoxic carcinogens. Chronic inhalation of hexavalent chromium compounds increases the risk of lung cancer. In addition, it targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes.

A major source of worker exposure to Hexavalent chromium occurs during "hot work" such as welding on stainless steel and other alloy steels containing chromium metal. Hexavalent chromium compounds may be used as pigments in dyes, paints, inks, and plastics. It also may be used as an anticorrosive agent added to paints, primers, and other surface coatings. The Hexavalent chromium compound chromic acid is used to electroplate chromium onto metal parts to provide a decorative or protective coating.


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