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Engineering Controls Database

Control of Lead Exposure in Lead Smelter Workers

The process of lead smelting and refining exposes the worker to a host of chemicals, including the following: lead, Caustic soda, nitrate of soda, powdered sulfur, and red phosphorus.
Lead in a body’s system targets the Central Nervous System, the Peripheral Nervous System, the kidneys, and the hematopoietic (blood forming) system. Lead exposure can lead to muscle weakness known as “wrist drop,” Anemia, proximal kidney tubule damage, chronic kidney disease, elevated blood pressure, fetal damage in pregnant women.
Several types of controls were implemented to reduce blood lead levels in the workers. First, engineering measures which includes substitution, process and equipment modification, isolation and automation, and local and general ventilation. Work practices that were enforced were personal hygiene practices, housekeeping, and worker rotation to low exposure areas. Personal protective equipment – respirators, gloves, goggles, and aprons – were used.

Primary controls used: Local exhaust ventilation, partial enclosures, and enclosed ventilation in reverbatory furnace operations, electric arc furnace operations, and casting and refinery area; HEPA-filtered half-mask and full-face negative pressure respirators and full-face and PAPR respirators worn in production areas of plant
Unique controls: Financial incentives in the form of bonuses; strict policies of personal hygiene; paved parking lots and around buildings to keep dust to a minimum; frequent use of wet sweepers to control dust which contained small amounts of lead.

List of 12 different engineering controls used:
Kettle hooding
Expand baghouse capacity
Automatic dross skimmer
Improve furnace hooding
Increase baghouse ventilation
Improve refinery ducting
Increase general ventilation
Surface parking lot
Expand baghouse by 20%
New wet sweeper
Automatic battery dumper
Improve kettle hooding
243-05-A; 243-05-B; 243-05-C;
battery wrecker operator
lead smelting
refinery worker
secondary lead smelting
Estimated Effectiveness and Ranking of Engineering controls and incentive program:
1. Wet sweeper (high): 29.7%
2. Automatic battery dumper (high): 27.0%
3. Expand smelter baghouse (high): 23.5%
4. Wet sweeper (low): 22.7%
5. Surface parking lot (low): 21.1%
6. Wet sweeper (mod): 21.0%
7. Bonus 29 (high): 20.1%
8. Surface parking lot (high): 19.6%
9. Bonus 34 (low): 18.9%
10. Improve hooding on furnace: 16.7%
11. Bonus 39 (low): 15.8%