In a study of exposure to hexavalent chromium, nickel, and cadmium compounds in the electroplating industry, the U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Surface Engineering Association (SEA) found that biological monitoring and targeted advice helped to significantly reduce exposures to nickel and chromium. HSE and SEA visited 53 electroplating companies during the study and conducted occupational hygiene assessments of relevant tasks and exposure controls at each work site. Then they used biological monitoring (post-shift urine sampling) to assess exposures to nickel, chromium, and cadmium, and also took measurements to evaluate levels of contamination on work surfaces and on workers’ hands. According to HSE and SEA, exposures to nickel and chromium were reduced when they provided targeted advice to individual companies with elevated levels of exposure and followed up with repeat biological monitoring to show evidence that the reduction in exposures was sustained.
In their report, HSE and SEA note that exposures to these metals were not limited to employees working in the electroplating process; significant exposures were also recorded in maintenance staff, chemists, and other ancillary staff. “This wide spread of exposure risk must be taken into account when designing exposure control strategies,” the report reads.