RR1042 Exposure to carcinogens in surface engineering: Supplementary report

This report details work undertaken following HSE research published as RR963 Exposure to hexavalent chromium, nickel and cadmium compounds in the electroplating industry (Keen et al, 2013). This examined the use of biological monitoring (BM) in the surface engineering (electroplating) industry.

The report examines the efficacy of gloves, the use of surfactants and local exhaust ventilation in chromium plating, and the potential for transfer of contaminants outside the workplace.

Laboratory tests and statistical analysis on gloves showed that although some glove types offer more protection than others, working practices should be arranged such that gloves are worn for splash protection only and not routinely used as a primary barrier to protect against dermal exposure to hazardous substances.

No real difference in urinary chromium levels in electroplaters can be attributed to the use of surfactants or LEV to control mist emissions from plating tanks. Either approach is capable of providing adequate exposure control provided it is properly implemented and maintained.

Published scientific literature indicates that the major route by which occupational contamination is transferred outside the workplace is on work clothing. There is clear potential for this to occur in the surface engineering industry when contaminated work wear is taken home for laundering.

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Updated 2021-04-15