Hexavalent Chromium

Hexavalent chromium is one of several oxidation states of the element chromium and is commonly used in chrome plating operations to deposit a corrosion-resistant coating on metal parts. Hexavalent chromium is also produced when chrome metal or alloys containing chrome metal are heated to high temperatures, such as during the welding of stainless steel.

Hexavalent Chromium

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What are the hazards associated with hexavalent chromium?

Cr(VI) is known to cause cancer. In addition, it targets the respiratory system, kidneys, liver, skin and eyes.

Is there a special emphasis program associated with this topic?

Occupational exposure to hexavalent chromium falls within the OSH Division health hazards special emphasis program.

What can I do to protect myself?

Employees working around chrome plating operations should ensure they are wearing the necessary personal protective equipment when working around these processes. Employees who are welding stainless steel and other high chromium content alloys should be sure to position the workpieces between themselves and the exhaust ventilation.

Your employer is required to provide respiratory protection in accordance with the respiratory protection standard, 29 CFR 1910.134, when ventilation is not sufficient to maintain your exposure below the permissible exposure limit.

What resources are available to assist employers?

Training and Outreach Services

Related The presentations on hazard communication, respiratory protection, welding and cutting (general industry and construction) and personal protective equipment are available to assist employers in training their staff. Each of these presentations should be modified to address site-specific conditions and hazards. Other example presentations are available along with pre-recorded webinars

In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. 

Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC).

Safety and Health Programs

Example programs for hazard communication, respiratory protection, and hazardous chemical program can be used to assist employers in the development of their overall comprehensive safety and health program. A personal protective equipment  should be used to ensure that all PPE has been identified to protect the employee from exposure. Other example safety and health programs are available for employers to download and adapt to their specific conditions. 

Safety and Health Topics

Additional resources can be found on the safety and health topic pages for respiratory protection, hazard communication, eyewash stations and emergency showers, hierarchy of controls, chemical hazards and toxic substances and personal protective equipment

Consultation Services

Lastly, the consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards.


Which standards apply?

OSH has adopted the following standards which are applicable to hexavalent chromium in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. 

General Industry


Maritime, Shipyard Employment

Maritime, Marine Terminals

Other Applicable Standards

The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite.

Where can I learn more?

Industry Guides

Compliance Documents

  • CPL 02-02-074 - Inspection Procedures for the Chromium (VI) Standards provides guidelines and establishes uniform inspection and compliance procedures for the occupational exposure standards for hexavalent chromium.
  • Operational Procedure Notice: OPN 135, Special Emphasis Programs for Health Hazards, describes the conduct of inspections and associated activities under this SEP.
  • OSHA Technical Manual (TED 01-00-015) provides technical information about workplace hazards and controls to OSHA’s Compliance Safety and Health Officers.
  • CFR 174 - Hexavalent Chromium provides the promulgation of the rule.

Technical Assistance

Inquiries about workplace safety and health requirements can be submitted to Ask OSH through the online form, by email to ask.osh@labor.nc.gov, or by phone at 919-707-7876.