Fact Sheets (Program Highlights) - Table of Contents|
U.S. Department of Labor
Fact Sheet No. OSHA 93-49
Lead is a cumulative and persistent toxic substance that poses a serious health risk. A rigorous housekeeping program and adherence to basic personal hygiene practices will minimize employee exposure to lead. In addition, these two elements of the worker protection program will help to prevent taking lead- contaminated dust out of the worksite and home to the workers' families, thus ensuring that the duration of lead exposure does not extend beyond the workshift and providing added protection to employees and their families.
An effective housekeeping program involves at least daily removal of accumulations of lead dust and lead-containing debris. Vacuuming lead dust with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)- filtered equipment or wetting it with water before sweeping are effective control measures. Such cleaning operations should be conducted, whenever possible, at the end of the day, after normal operations cease. Furthermore, all persons doing the cleanup should be provided with suitable respiratory protection and personal protective clothing to prevent contact with lead.
In addition, all lead-containing debris and contaminated items accumulated for disposal should be collected and put into sealed impermeable bags or other closed impermeable containers. Bags and containers should be appropriately labeled as lead-containing waste. These measures are especially important as they minimize additional sources of exposure that engineering controls generally are not designed to control.
To minimize exposure to lead, special attention should be given to workers' personal hygiene. The employer must provide and ensure that workers use washing facilities. Clean change areas, and separate non-contaminated eating areas must also be provided. Cars should be parked where they will not be contaminated with lead. These measures will reduce the worker's period of exposure to lead and the ingestion of lead, ensure that the duration of lead exposure does not extend beyond the workshift, significantly reduce the movement of lead from the worksite, and provide added protection to employees and their families.
Change Areas: The employer must provide a clean change area equipped with storage facilities for street clothes and a separate area with facilities for the removal and storage of lead-contaminated protective work clothing and equipment. This separation is essential in preventing cross contamination of the employee's clothing.
Clean change areas are to be used for taking off street clothes, suiting up in clean working clothes (protective clothing), donning respirators prior to beginning work, and dressing in street clothes after work. No lead-contaminated items should enter this area.
Work clothing must not be worn away from the job site. Under no circumstances shall lead-contaminated work clothes be laundered at home or taken from the worksite, except to be laundered professionally or properly disposed of following applicable Federal, state, and local regulations.
Showers: When there is potential for extensive contamination of the employees' skin, hair, and protective clothing, shower facilities must be provided if feasible so that exposed employees can wash lead from their skin and hair prior to leaving the worksite. Where showers are provided, employees must change out of their work clothes and shower before changing into their street clothes and leaving the worksite.
Workers who do not change into clean clothing before leaving the worksite may contaminate their homes and automobiles with lead dust. Other members of the household may then be exposed to harmful amounts of lead.
Personal Practices (eating, drinking, etc.): The employer must ensure that employees who work with lead either clean or remove their protective clothing and wash their hands and face prior to eating, drinking, smoking or applying cosmetics and that these latter practices are never permitted while in the work area or in areas subject to the accumulation of lead. HEPA vacuuming can be used to remove loose contamination from the work clothing prior to eating.
Washing Facilities: Adequate washing facilities shall be provided for employees. Such facilities shall be in near proximity to the worksite and provided with water, soap, and clean towels to enable employees to remove lead contamination from their skin.
Contaminated water from washing facilities and showers must be disposed of in accordance with applicable local, state, or federal regulations.
End-of-Day Procedures: Workers who are exposed to lead should follow these procedures upon finishing work for the day:
* Place disposable coveralls and shoe covers with the 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; and
* Change into street clothes.
This is one of a series of fact sheets highlighting U.S. Department of Labor programs. It is intended as a general description only and does not carry the force of legal opinion. This information will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 219-8151. TDD message referral phone: 1-800-326-2577.
Fact Sheets (Program Highlights) - Table of Contents|