In December 2012, OSHA released its Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor within the Dept. of Labor’s set of elaws Advisors. The elaws Advisors are interactive e-tools that provide easy-to-understand information about a variety of federal employment laws. Each Advisor simulates the interaction you might have with an expert of employment law by asking questions and providing answers based on the responses given.
The OSHA Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor is designed to help determine if the federal requirements for cadmium monitoring and medical surveillance are being met. The tool is intended for use by medical professionals who evaluate workers' cadmium exposure. However, it is a beneficial educational tool for employers since it helps define overexposure and key prevention tactics.
The Monitoring Advisor evaluates results input by the user, along with answers to pertinent questions to generate monitoring and surveillance requirements. Based on the data, the advisor sets requirements for additional monitoring and other key pieces of medical surveillance an employer must implement.
OSHA estimates that 300,000 workers in the U.S. are exposed to Cadmium each year. OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1027 applies to all occupational exposures to cadmium and cadmium compounds, in all forms, and in all industries, except the construction-related industries, which are covered under 29 CFR 1926.63. Under this regulation employers must assure that no employee is exposed to an airborne concentration of cadmium in excess of five micrograms per cubic meter of air (5 ug/m(3)), calculated as an eight-hour time-weighted average exposure (TWA).
Worker exposure to cadmium can occur in all industry sectors but mainly in manufacturing and construction. OSHA publishes the following occupations as those with the highest probability of cadmium exposure: smelting and refining of metals; manufacturing batteries, plastics, coatings, and solar panels; electroplating, metal machining, welding and painting operations; landfill operations, the recycling of electronic parts, the recycling of plastics, and Ni-Cd battery recycling. Compost workers and waste collectors are also potentially exposed to dust which may contain cadmium as well as workers involved in the incineration of municipal waste.
Cadmium enters the human body by inhalation, by ingestion, and possibly through skin absorption. Inhaled cadmium is more readily absorbed into the body than is ingested cadmium. Consequences of exposure can range from temporary weakness, fever, headaches and muscle pain. Research has linked high exposure to kidney damage and cancer.
It should be noted that the OSHA Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor makes determinations required by the OSHA General Industry Cadmium Standard, and cites the applicable provisions of that Standard. The OSHA Construction Industry Cadmium Standard uses the same criteria used in the general industry Cadmium Standard to make determinations
based on biological monitoring Industry Cadmium Standard. Therefore, anyone using this etool for construction industry occupational exposures to cadmium must find the corresponding provisions manually.
If you suspect that your workforce has exposure to cadmium, a baseline exposure assessment is the first step. Emilcott has over 25 years assisting clients in determining workplace hazards and exposures.