Proposed ACGIH Notice of Intended Change for Manganese

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HomeResourcesWhite PapersProposed ACGIH Notice of Intended Change for Manganese

Proposed ACGIH Notice of Intended Change for Manganese

The welding industry has been under attack recently from welders claiming an assortment of ailments that occurred during their careers from breathing metallic fumes. And to date the defendants have been generally successful in their defense of these claims. Recently, however, a verdict was handed down against 5 defendants totaling 20.5 million dollars, to one plaintiff.

The lawsuit centers around exposure to Manganese (Manganism) and the fumes produced during welding operations. What does this mean for the Welding Industry? Is this verdict a harbinger of what’s to come?

Then further, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has recently announced that it intends to dramatically reduce the Threshold Limit Value (TLV) – Time Weighted Average (8-Hour TWA) for respirable Manganese particulate. The current TLV stands at 0.2 mg/m3 and would be reduced to 0.02 mg/ m3, or a ten-fold reduction under current levels. This TLV applies to Manganese compounds found in fumes from welding processes. Currently the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has an established Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for Manganese of 5.0 mg/m3 Ceiling Limit. The PEL established by OSHA is the federal law for employee exposures at workplaces.

When compared to the PEL, the proposed TLV change would be a reduction of exposure, 250 times under the federally mandated limit. Keep in mind that the ACGIH is not OSHA. It should be noted, however, that OSHA has often followed ACGIH recommendations in determining exposure limits.

If adopted, companies should have an assessment of their operations performed by a Certified Industrial Hygienist, to establish a baseline of their employee exposures. Once companies have the exposure data, if need be a plan can be established to reduce the volume of fume by means of engineering controls. Engineered controls may consist of fans, respirators, forced air breathing apparatus, fume arms, backdraft or sidedraft hoods or dust collection systems.

A copy of the proposed change can be obtained from the ACGIH website, click on the notice of intended change and click on Manganese, elemental and organic compounds. The notice is an 18-page document that lists in detail historical and clinical data that support the proposed reduction in fume exposure.

Additional information can be obtained from the American Welding Society.

What does this all mean to you?

First, don’t panic. These pending levels can be met successfully. Certain processes, especially manual ones will be harder than others (automated processes are typically much easier), but all should be attainable. It is very important that a complete understanding of the manufacturing process is evaluated on-site. Sometimes it will be necessary to change the way that a part is welded so as to protect the welder from the fume plume. With the reductions to the level that is proposed all parties will have to come together to ensure a successful outcome.