A Piece of Work | Take-Home Lead Exposure

Many job functions may expose workers to the toxic metal lead, including: painting; demolition; soldering; metal production; building renovation; radiator repair; and more. It is known that lead harms the nervous system, brain, blood and kidneys, and some of the harmful effects of lead exposure are permanent. As a result, OSHA has developed regulations regarding lead exposure, which minimizes the risk to workers in general industry and construction.

Employers have many responsibilities when there is lead exposure on the job. Workers need to know if their job involves lead and if so, they need to be provided with lead safety training. Workplace air needs to be tested, as well as worker blood lead levels. Appropriate protective clothing and equipment needs to be provided. Workers should have access to hand-washing stations, and a place to take showers and change into clean clothes.

Workers need to be aware that they can unknowingly bring lead home on their clothes, shoes, hands, skin and hair. This take-home lead can cause lead poisoning in children and family members. In children, even low levels of lead in the blood can cause learning and behavioral issues.

To help prevent take-home lead exposure, leave work clothes and shoes at work. If work clothes must be taken home, put them in a plastic bag and wash them separately from other laundry. Wash hands often. At the end of a shift, shower and change into clean clothes. Keep personal physicians aware of possible lead exposures.

Though lead is a common hazardous element found on the job, taking preventative and protective measures can lessen the risks to workers and their families.

Date Posted: 10-08-2015
Tags: lead contamination, lead exposure, osha safety topics, osha safety training, osha workplace safety,