Lead: How You Can Keep Your Workers Safe From Lead
Information for Employers
There are certain things that can be applied to all industries to keep workers safe. Certain industries or work environments may require additional measures to keep workers from being exposed to lead.
- Survey the workplace for lead-containing items. Conduct exposure monitoring as required by the OSHA Lead Standardexternal icon. This requires air samples to be taken.
- Replace lead-containing products with lead-free or lower lead content products when possible. Where lead-containing products cannot be replaced, train workers on hazards and safe work practices.
- Use proper engineering controls to ensure the work area is well-ventilated.
- Ensure workers have appropriate personal protective equipment, such as goggles, proper respiratory protection, coveralls, gloves, et cetera as required by the OSHA Standardexternal icon.
- Conduct routine Blood Lead Level testing for workers who are potentially exposed to lead.
- Make a lead monitoring program available for workers. The program should consist of biological monitoring and medical surveillance. Such monitoring programs are required by OSHA if employees are found to be exposed at or above the lead action level.
- Provide workers with effective lead removal products. Hand washing with standard soap and water is not effective at removing lead residue from hands. 1 NIOSH researchers have developed wipes that can remove 98% of lead residues from skin. NIOSH is seeking partners to license this technology. To learn more about this opportunity to partner with NIOSH, please contact Kathleen Goedel at Kgoedel@cdc.gov or 513-533-8686.
- NIOSH developed a quick and easy hand wipe technology to let workers know instantly if they have lead on their hands. Now called Full Disclosureexternal icon, it was licensed in 2003 and is commercially available from SKC, Inc. Mention of a company name does not imply commercial endorsement by NIOSH.
- If you have concerns that your workers are being exposed to lead, you may contact NIOSH to have the work environment assessed for free. For more details visit the NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation website.
- You may also contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Consultation Program, a free consultation service funded by OSHA to find out about potential hazards at your worksites and improve your occupational safety and health management systems: OSHA Fact Sheet: The OSHA Consultation Programpdf iconexternal icon (PDF 49KB, 2 pages)
- Refer to OSHA Lead Standardsexternal icon for actions required to ensure your workers are safe. Contact your state OSHA officeexternal icon to see if your state has additional requirements.
Information on OSHA Lead Standards
1 Filon FL, Boeniger M, Maina G, Adami G, Spinelli P, Damian A. . Skin absorption of inorganic lead (PbO) and the effect of skin cleansers. Journal of Environmental Medicine. [ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16832226external icon] 48(7): 692-699.