Environmental and worker protection practices observed during lead-containing paint removal in four European countries.
Appl Occup Environ Hyg 1996 Nov; 11(11):1269-1272
The results of a survey of environmental and worker protection practices used during the removal of lead (7439921) containing paint by abrasive blasting at worksites in European countries were summarized. Safety practices and environmental protection methods were observed while workers removed lead paint from bridge surfaces at five sites in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain (GB) by an eight member panel assembled by the United States (US) Federal Highway Administration. Containment systems placed around elevated support structures on the bridges or which were suspended under the bridges were used at all five sites. The systems consisted of scaffolding, plywood, lumber, and reinforced tarps, and were designed to capture 95% of the spent abrasive and debris. Ground tarps were used as secondary containment systems at some sites. Soil lead monitoring was performed; however, no environmental air or water monitoring was required. Implementation of worker protection programs at the sites was inconsistent. Safety issues such as preventing falls or other accidents were well addressed; however, lead specific health issues were poorly addressed. No requirements or guidance for training workers about hazards associated with removing lead paints similar to those used in the US were seen during the survey. Dust collection systems when used inside the containment systems were not capable of suppressing visible airborne dust even when no abrasive blasting was in progress. Although respirators were available, none of the workers were observed using them. None of the countries required a formal respirator program. Except in Germany, medical monitoring to determine a worker's fitness to wear respirators was not performed. Decontamination facilities for the workers ranged from nonexistent in Switzerland to complete showerhouses in Germany and GB. The author concludes that the observed environmental protection practices observed at the worksites typically meet or exceed US requirements. Observed worker training and protection practices, however, fall short of US requirements.
NIOSH-Author; Work-practices; Abrasive-blasting; Industrial-hygiene; Safety-practices; Heavy-metals; Occupational-exposure; Control-methods; Respiratory-protective-equipment
Chris Lovelace, Health Hazards Control Branch, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources, P.O. Box 27687, Raleigh, North Carolina 27611-7687
Applied Occupational and Environmental Hygiene