PDH Engineer     PE PDH
PDH Online

How to Avoid Lead Exposure in the Construction Industry

Quiz Questions

1. PEL in this article/course stands for permissible exposure limit in lead.
2. The lead in construction standard requires employers to use, when feasible, engineering and work practice controls to reduce and maintain employee lead exposure to or below the PEL. When all feasible controls have been instituted but are not sufficient to reduce employee exposure to or below the PEL, they must be used to reduce exposure to the lowest feasible level and supplemented by respirators.
3. In building construction, lead is frequently used for roofs, cornices, tank linings, and electrical conduits. In plumbing, soft solder, used chiefly for soldering tinplate and copper pipe joints, is an alloy of lead and tin. Soft solder, in fact, has been banned for many uses in the United States. The use of lead-based paint in residential application has been banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, since lead-based paint inhibits the rusting and corrosion of iron and steel, it is still used on bridges, railways, ships, lighthouses, and other steel structures, although substitute coatings are available.
4. At the minimum, the following elements should be included in the employer’s worker protection program for employees exposed to lead:

  • Hazard determination, including exposure assessment,(see Lead-Related Tasks Regarding Interim Worker Exposure in Part 3, Table 1 in this guide)
  • Engineering and work practice controls
  • Respiratory protection
  • Protective clothing and equipment
  • Housekeeping
  • Hygiene facilities and practices
  • Medical surveillance and provisions for medical removal
  • Training
  • Signs
  • Record keeping
5. At the end of the day which one of the tasks below should be performed by the workers who are exposed to lead:
Place disposable coveralls and shoe covers into containers designated for lead waste.
Place lead-contaminated clothes, including work shoes, and personal protective equipment for laundering/cleaning (by the employer) in a closed container.
Take a shower and wash hair.
Change into street clothes.
All of the above
6. At no cost to employees, employers must provide workers who are exposed to lead above the PEL and for whom the possibility of skin contamination or skin or eye irritation exists, clean, dry protective work clothing and equipment. Appropriate changing facilities must also be provided. Appropriate protective work clothing and equipment used on construction sites can include:

  • Coveralls or other full-body work clothing
  • Gloves
  • Vented goggles or face shields with protective spectacles or goggles
  • Welding or blasting helmets, when required
7. Although engineering and work practice controls are the primary means of protecting workers, source control at construction sites is often not sufficient to control exposure, and airborne lead concentrations may be high or vary widely. In the construction industry, respirators must be used at times to supplement engineering controls and work practices whenever these controls are technologically incapable of reducing worker exposures to lead to 50 μg/m3 or below.

To provide adequate respiratory protection, respirators must be donned before entering the work area and should not be removed until the worker has left the area, or as part of a decontamination procedure.
8. Minimum requirements for an acceptable respirator program for lead include the following elements:

  • Written standard operating procedures governing the selection and use of respirators.
  • Selection of respirators on the basis of hazards to which the worker is exposed.
  • Instruction and training in the proper use of respirators and their limitations.
  • Regular inspection and cleaning, maintenance, and disinfections.(Worn or deteriorated parts must be replaced, including replacement of the filter element in an air-purifying respirator whenever an increase in breathing resistance is detected.)
  • Storage in a convenient, clean, and sanitary location with protection against sunlight and physical damage.
  • Appropriate surveillance of work area conditions and degree of worker exposure or stress (physiological or psychological) must be maintained.
  • Evaluation to determine the continued effectiveness of the program.
  • Physician’s determination that the employee is physically able to perform the work and wear a respirator while performing the work.(Respirator user’s medical capacity to wear and work with a respirator should be reviewed annually.)
  • Use of Mine Safety and Health Administration/ National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (MSHA/NIOSH) certified respirators.
  • Fit testing of negative-pressure respirators.
  • Breathing air used for supplied-air respirators must meet the requirements prescribed in 29 CFR 1910.134(b), (d), (e), and (f).
  • Standing permission for employees to leave the work area to wash their faces and respirator face pieces whenever necessary to prevent skin irritation associated with respirator use.
9. Table 2 shows:
The respiratory protection and selection for lead aerosol.
The respiratory selection for construction industry
The respiratory selection for asbestos
10. Employers must properly record cases on their OSHA form 200 when the worker:

  • Has a blood lead level that exceeds 50 μg/dl.
  • Has symptoms of lead poisoning, such as colic, nerve damage, renal damage, anemia, or gum problems.
  • Receives medical treatment to lower blood lead levels or for lead poisoning.

In addition, employees or former employees, their designated representatives, and OSHNC must be provided access to exposure and medical records in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.20. When an employer ceases to do business, the successor employer must receive and retain all required records.