The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a Health Hazard Evaluation (HHE) request from a large scrap metal recycling company to evaluate whether their employees were overexposed to lead and other metals and if they needed to comply with the OSHA Lead standard, 29 CFR1910.1025. Lead and other hazardous metals were suspected in the base metal, alloys, and preservative coatings on the recycled scrap. Contamination of clothing and hands was also a concern since these conditions may create an ingestion hazard and may contaminate the worker's car, home, and family. The two job categories evaluated were Burners cutting large pieces of scrap metal usually several inches thick with an oxygen/propane torch, and Plate Cutters cutting steel plates less than one inch thick with the same type of torch. NIOSH investigators collected 27 personal air samples for elements over three consecutive work days, 13 on the Burners and 14 on the Plate Cutters. Of the 13 samples collected on the Burners 12 were over the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit or Action Level (AL) for lead. Several Burners exceeded the OSHA PEL for cadmium, copper and arsenic. In addition, 3 Burners exceeded the NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for nickel. One Plate Cutter exceeded the OSHA PEL for lead and 4 the AL. Wipe samples were collected from employees' hands, personal protective equipment (PPE), and work surfaces and analyzed for lead and other metals. Lead was found on the workers' hands, PPE, and other surfaces in concentrations ranging from none detected to 760 ug per sample. The employer was informed of the requirements in OSHA's substance specific standards, specifically the need for engineering controls, use of showers, maintaining work surfaces clean, and use of respiratory protection until engineering controls are implemented.
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