Occupational exposures to lead can occur in construction activities, such as plumbing system retrofits; the spraying, removal, or heating of paint that contains lead; and the welding, cutting, and grinding of lead-containing construction materials.
Occupational lead exposures can affect workers as well as family members and friends who come in contact with the “take-home” lead on worker’s clothing, hair, hands, etc. The toxic effects of lead on the human body have been well documented and included damage to the kidneys, brain, and reproductive organs that, in turn, causes the loss of kidney function, sterility, decreased fertility, and birth defects and mental retardation in offspring.
- Cal/Osha enforces the “Lead in Construction Safety Orders” that makes employers responsible for the following:
- For each jobsite the lead hazard must be assessed.
- Where lead is present the following is required:
- Lead dust must be controlled by HEPA vacuuming, wet cleanup, or other effective methods.
- The employer shall assure that food, beverage, and tobacco products are not present or used in areas where employees are exposed to lead above the PEL. The employer shall provide hygiene facilities for changing, showering, eating and hand washing.
- Workers shall have access to labels on containers of lead and safety data sheets, and must be trained as per 5192 and 1532.1
- The employer shall implement a written compliance program to ensure control of hazardous lead exposures.
- The employer shall provide the worker with and required the use of appropriate personal protective equipment.
- The employer shall assure that all protective clothing is removed at the completion of a work shift only in change areas provided for that purpose.
- The permissible exposure limits (PELs) for airborne lead are 0.05 milligrams per cubic meter air (mg/m3) and an action level of .03 mg/m3, both as an 8 hour time-weighted-average (TWA).
- The employer shall post the following warning signs in each regulated area or work area where an employee’s exposure to lead is above PEL. DANGER, LEAD WORK AREA, MAY DAMAGE FERTILITY OR THE UNBORN CHILD, CAUSES DAMAGE TO THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM, DO NOT EAT, DRINK, OR SMOKE IN THIS AREA