OSHA Launches Program to Reduce Lead Exposure

OSHA has announced a national emphasis program aimed at reducing\r\noccupational exposure to lead, one of the leading causes of workplace\r\nillnesses.

OSHA has announced a national emphasis program aimed at reducing occupational exposure to lead, one of the leading causes of workplace illnesses.

"Occupational exposure to lead is still one of the most prevalent overexposures found throughout industry," said R. Davis Layne, acting OSHA administrator. "It''s imperative we do all we can to reduce that exposure to workers. This national emphasis program will help us focus inspection efforts on worksites involved in lead-related activities."

The program will apply to all workplaces under OSHA''s jurisdiction, including general industry, construction, longshoring, maritime and shipyards.

Details of the program are contained in a compliance directive Layne issued to OSHA''s field offices Friday.

The compliance directive includes, as a resource, a list of standard industrial codes for which high exposure levels have been demonstrated or for which high blood lead levels have been documented.

The program will cover complaints and referrals, and will set targeted inspections in industries or worksites where there is potential for lead exposure, according to OSHA.

The agency hopes to reduce occupational lead exposures by 15 percent by the end of 2002, a goal established in OSHA''s Strategic Plan. Under that goal, OSHA committed to reduce three of the most prevalent types of workplace injuries and illnesses -- amputations, plus the hazards associated with exposure to silica and lead.

Lead is a systemic poison. Overexposure to lead can damage blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems.

It is commonly added to industrial paints because of its characteristic to resist corrosion and add certain color characteristics.

by Virginia Foran

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