The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is publishing a minor amendment in the October 31 Federal Register to the compliance date provision of its hexavalent chromium standard for general industry. The amendment is part of a settlement agreement with the Surface Finishing Industry Council (SFIC); Public Citizen Health Research Group; and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union. The agreement resolves a legal challenge by the SFIC to OSHA’s hexavalent chromium standard.

The agreement creates an optional, alternative compliance timetable for metal- and surface-finishing operations at eligible facilities. Facilities that become parties to the agreement must implement engineering controls for electroplating operations on an expedited schedule (by December 31, 2008), but will have relief from certain respirator requirements in the interim. The amendment has no impact on the compliance requirement for facilities that are not eligible to or do not become parties to the agreement.

A facility is eligible to become a party to the agreement if: 1) the employer is a member of SFIC or the facility is a surface-finishing or metal-finishing job shop that sells plating or anodizing services to other companies; and 2) the facility is within the jurisdiction of federal OSHA.

Employers can make their eligible facilities parties to the agreement by sending OSHA a completed declaration of party status. Declarations, OSHA’s settlement with SFIC and the Federal Register notice are available on OSHA’s Web site at: www.osha.gov/SLTC/hexavalentchromium/hexchrom_settlement.html. A separate declaration must be completed for each facility and must be received by OSHA or postmarked on or before November 30, 2006.

Petitions for review of the hexavalent chromium standard filed by other petitioners remain pending in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.