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Why OSHA is worried about chromium exposure on ships

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety for New York seamen in the maritime industry, as well as employees who work on land. Not only does this include preventing injuries, OSHA also has hazard communication rules that require employers to protect workers from chemical exposure. One of these that is mentioned specifically in relation to the maritime industry is chromium.

Employer responsibilities include appropriate labeling and personal protective equipment and clothing. The dangerous nature of the chemical may even create a need for special spaces designed to remove, dispose of or clean contaminated clothing. Employees who come into contact with chromium must be trained in how to interact with it, as well as the health problems that may arise from exposure. Any failure of the employer to follow these regulations may be considered negligence.

OSHA explains that contact with chromium may damage a person’s skin and eyes, and if it is airborne, inhaling it could also harm the respiratory system. The kidneys and liver are also at risk from this toxin, and it is a known carcinogen.

Chromium plays an important role in resisting corrosion in metals and paints, as well as strengthening the hardness of steel, making it valuable in the shipping industry and others. Workers who are particularly likely to be exposed to chromium include welders and those who come in contact with surfaces such as metal or plastic that contain it or are treated with it. Dyes, inks, paints and primers may also contain this toxic substance.

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