For anyone that has attended the EPA’s Lead RRP training knows, there is more to worry about then just what the EPA requires. As we discussed and showed in a prior article, OSHA has its own regulations that in some cases contradict what the EPA requires. One of the biggest issues is that if any lead is present, the OSHA standards automatically come into effect, whereas the EPA has a de minimis threshold that must be taken into account before you must use their procedures. While the EPA only targets lead paint in this regulation, OSHA targets any known lead sources, including pipes, stain, tiles, mortar, flashings, etc…
Who is affected?
In OSHA’s own words from their review (http://www.osha.gov/dea/lookback/lead-construction-review.html)
3.1.2 Sectors Unlikely to Be Subject to the standard
The lead standard applies to construction work where the employees could be exposed to lead. In practice, the majority of construction employees have little or no exposure to lead. ..
…Unless they spend most of their time on older (pre-1950) buildings, most specialty trade contractors, such as electricians, plumbers, flooring installers, and masons, may be exposed to lead dust relatively infrequently….
…When those activities occur, such as removing an old pipe, cutting into a wall to add an electrical outlet, or removing old wiring that includes lead, the activities take only a few minutes. Even removal of old windows, the housing element most likely to be coated with LBP and to have significant deterioration of the paint, is unlikely to result in prolonged employee exposure to high levels of lead dust because the removal takes only a few minutes.
3.1.3 Sectors Likely to Be Subject to the standard
…The primary affected specialty trade employees are painters and demolition employees….
Well I can hear some grumbling from some area’s & some relieved sighs coming from other areas. Well I hate to say this – but not so fast…
If lead is present at your job/work site, you must conduct an initial determination to find out if the employees are or will be exposed to lead levels at or above OSHA’s Action Level (AL) of 30 ug/m3 micrograms per cubic meter or Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50ug/m3.
What is an Initial Determination?
Basically, you must hook up air monitoring systems to either each employee or a representative sample of the employees to detect airborne lead particles for one full shift. This is done by clipping an air-sampling pump to the employees clothing with a tube & filter running to within 10 inches of the employees head. While this test is being done, all employees must be wearing respirators*. Worker exposure to airborne lead is measured by the captured lead particles on or in the filter. The filter is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory results are evaluated to determine whether the worker’s exposure level exceeded the AL or PEL. No matter what the outcome (even if negative), you must record the information, inform the employees within five business days in writing & hold onto all the records for 30 years. If you have exceeded either limit, additional requirements will need to be taken.
But wait – there’s more; if you are doing demolition, manual scraping or other tasks that OSHA considers high risk while the initial determination is being done – you must also provide
(A) Half-mask air purifying respirators with HEPA filter or half-mask supplied air respirators operated in the demand (negative pressure) mode (B) Appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment (C) Change areas including shower facilities on site (D) Hand washing facilities (E) Biological monitoring (F) Training
*Ready for another catch?
If employees are required to wear or voluntarily wear respirators as part of their jobs, this triggers another OSHA requirement. 1910.134 which requires a written program, medical evaluations, training, & fit testing to name just a few of the items one must keep up with.
Per OSHA (which generally has a better handle of costs than the EPA)
Compliance with the standard is estimated to add between $300 and $400 to any work on a pre-1978 housing unit to cover the cost of initial monitoring. If lead dust is present above the action level, but below the PEL, compliance is estimated to cost an additional $100 to $900 per job. If exposures are above the PEL, compliance cost per jobs would increase from $500 to $1,800. Costs will vary with the number of LBP jobs done and the length of the job. Costs would be lower for small jobs and higher for those that require more surface preparation.
Ready to scream yet? Well don’t panic just yet; the next article should contain some good news for many of us. While you may notice that OSHA does not like to play well with others & seemingly believes in a one-size fits all approach, (i.e. that what applies to those working on repainting a bridge applies to a worker replacing a residential window) you can find that policy in itself is a good thing.