OSHA’s Lead Standard for the Construction Industry regulates any construction activities that might potentially expose workers to lead. This OSHA standard applies to all construction-related work, including alteration/restoration and painting. As your Jacksonville construction attorneys, we know that it’s crucial for construction workers to stay up to date on OSHA standards, especially when it comes to the case of lead exposure.
1. The Hazards of Lead Exposure
Lead exposure can be life-threatening, resulting in serious harm to the brain, reproductive organs, heart and kidneys. In addition to health concerns, lead exposure that is experienced by construction workers can also harm the development of future children.
2. Lead in the Construction Environment
Construction workers typically absorb lead by inhaling it as a dust, fume or mist. However, lead particles can also be ingested through the mouth. Once a worker inhales or ingests lead, large portions of the lead are absorbed into the bloodstream which creates the potential for toxic consequences, such as damage to major organs. Typically, lead is added to industrial paint because it inhibits the rusting and corrosion of iron and steel. Today lead is still used on bridges, ships and railways. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has prohibited the use of lead-based paint in residential homes. Lead is also used quite often for roofs, cornices, tank linings and electrical conduits.
Construction workers face potential lead exposure when working on:
- Bridge that are made with lead-based paints
- Sanding and scraping lead-based paint surfaces during remodeling
- Iron, electrical and demolition work
- Repairing heating and air conditioning units
- Renovation and remodeling work
3. Worker Protection Programs
OSHA’s Lead Standard requires employers to implement and develop a worker protection program for their employees that are exposed to lead in amounts greater than the permissible exposure limit (PEL). To help minimize the risk of worker lead exposure, the OSHA standard requires that the worker protection program implement the following:
- Providing employee exposure assessments and monitoring tests
- Providing medical exams
- Providing written compliance programs
- Engineering controls, including exhaust ventilation, enclosure of lead-based paint and substitution of materials and chemicals
- Provide change areas, shower and washing facilities
- Wearing protective clothing such as gloves, hats, vented goggles, and welding helmets
- Posting warning signs, informing of lead-paint based areas
- Training employees on lead safety
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.