Fact Sheets (Program Highlights) - Table of Contents|
U.S. Department of Labor
Fact Sheet No. OSHA 93-51
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 may vary widely.
Presently, in the construction industry, respirators must often be used to supplement engineering controls and work practices whenever these controls are technologically incapable of reducing worker exposures to lead to or below 50 ug/m(3).
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. Employers must assure that the respirator issued to the employee is properly selected and properly fitted so that it exhibits minimum facepiece leakage. Respirators must be supplied by the employer at no cost to employees. Employers must perform either qualitative or quantitative fit tests for each employee wearing negative pressure respirators. Fit testing is to be performed at the time of the initial fitting and at least semiannually thereafter.
RESPIRATOR PROGRAM: When respirators are provided, the employer must establish a respiratory protection program in accordance with the OSHA standard on respirator protection, 29 CFR 1910.134.
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 disinfection; 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 and 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 1910.134(d)(1); and
* 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.
RESPIRATOR SELECTION: Lead concentrations may vary substantially throughout a workshift as well as from day-to-day. The highest anticipated work concentration is to be used in the initial selection of an appropriate respirator.
Fact Sheet 92-50, "Exposure Ranges for Construction Activities," provides potential airborne exposure ranges associated with various activities commonly found in construction. These values may not be correct in every instance but can be used as guidance in making preliminary selection of respiratory types. The table, "NIOSH-recommended Respiratory Protection for Workers Exposed to Inorganic Lead," which appears here provides specific recommendations for the type of respirator to use when the actual workplace exposure reaches certain multiples of a 50 ug/m(3) permissible exposure limit (PEL). When an employer finds that exposures are lower or higher by personal air monitoring, then respirator selection can be adjusted accordingly.
In addition, if exposure monitoring or experience indicates airborne exposures to contaminants other than lead, such as solvents or polyurethane coatings, these exposures must be considered when selecting respiratory protection. A reevaluation of the respiratory protection program is required when a worker demonstrates a continued increase in blood lead levels.
ABRASIVE BLASTING AND RELATED OPERATIONS: NIOSH type CE respirators are required for use by abrasive blasting operators. Currently, NIOSH certifies both continuous flow and positive pressure respirators for abrasive blasting operations. The continuous-flow respirators are recommended by NIOSH only for airborne concentrations less than or equal to 25 times the OSHA PEL of 50 ug/m(3). Positive pressure respirators are recommended by NIOSH for airborne concentrations less than 2,000 times the OSHA PEL (50 ug/m(3)). Furthermore, manufacturer's instructions regarding quality of air, air pressure, and inside diameter and length of hoses must be strictly followed. Use of longer hoses or smaller inside diameter hoses than the manufacture's specifications, or hoses with bends or kinks may restrict the flow of air to a respirator.
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|