CFR Environmental provided indoor air quality consulting for a West Michigan industrial client that remanufactures truck parts, including drive axles. The drive axle remanufacturing process involves the building-up of worn drive axles using spray welding. Spray welding is a welding process where welding wire is volatilized and sprayed onto the rotating worn axle. After spray welding is completed, the axle diameter is reduced back to OEM specifications on a metal lathe.
The spray welding wire contained various metals, including chromium. An industrial hygiene survey showed that employee exposure during the spray welding operation resulted in the overexposure to hexavalent chromium fumes. CFR assisted the in-house safety manager in developing a compliance plan that included implementing a compliant respiratory protection program that included the use of a powered air purifying respirator (PAPR).
To mitigate chromium exposure during the spray welding operation, CFR worked with the client and welding vendor to find a welding wire that did not contain chromium. The new wire was tested and found to produce drive axles that met quality requirements. An indoor air quality survey was conducted to evaluate the new welding wire for fumes. Results of the IAQ survey showed that the hexavalent chromium exposure was successfully mitigated. The employee continued to use the PAPR on a voluntary basis.
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