Review of OSHA's Lead Standard Finds it Effective

Oct. 2, 2007
A review by OSHA of its Lead in Construction Standard indicates the standard has helped reduce blood lead levels among construction workers, thereby reducing the incidence of lead-related disease.

In addition, the lookback review also found the standard has not had a negative economic impact on business, is not overly complex and does not conflict with other regulations.

However, OSHA Administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. emphasized that those working in the construction industry are still being exposed to high levels of airborne lead.

“Employers and employees in the construction industry stand to benefit from the results of this lookback review,” Foulke said. “Certain construction jobs still experience high levels of airborne lead and the retention of this Standard is necessary to ensure employees are protected from high lead exposure.”

As a result, OSHA concluded that it was necessary to retain the standard but will consider improving outreach materials and increasing their dissemination. In addition, the agency will consult with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and as well as with EPA about developing a unified training curriculum and further integrate initial assessment interpretations to reduce cost and simplify requirements for small businesses.

The goal of the Lead in Construction Standard (29 CFR 1926.62) is to protect construction employees from lead-related health effects, the agency stated. OSHA estimates that in 2003, 649,000 employees were exposed to lead at levels that may trigger application of the standard. Between 1993 and 2003, federal OSHA and state-plan states conducted 4,834 inspections and issued 12,556 citations related to lead exposure, the agency said.

Elevated blood lead levels can produce irreversible adverse health effects, and studies have shown lead disease and lead-related diseases such as neurological and kidney disease and negative cardiovascular effects in construction employees. Construction employees primarily are exposed to lead when they remove lead-based paint from structural steel bridges or buildings, engage in the removal of lead from buildings or prepare some old residential units for painting or remodeling these units.

A relatively small number of construction employees are exposed to lead when using molten lead to seal cables, when working with lead-containing mortar and lead sheeting and when repairing old plumbing and performing work on older structures, as well as on shielding for ionizing radiation, radioactive materials and X-rays, according to OSHA.

Sponsored Recommendations

10 Facts About the State of Workplace Safety in the U.S.

July 12, 2024
Workplace safety in the U.S. has improved over the past 50 years, but progress has recently stalled. This report from the AFL-CIO highlights key challenges.

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!