- Standard Number:
OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov.
February 10, 1986
Sidney Lerner, M.D.
University of Cincinnati
College of Medicine
Mail Location 182
Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0182
Dear Mr. Lerner:
This is in response to your letter dated November 26, 1984, which you resubmitted May 6, 1985. Please accept my apology for the lengthy delay of this response. The overwhelming number of letters and telephone calls regarding the Hazard Communication Standard has caused unavoidable delays in responding to the public's concerns.
Your letter describes a lead exposure case history and submits two questions relating to it for interpretation relative to the legal requirements of the lead standard, 29 CFR 1910.1025. Briefly, the case history involved an employee who, while on medical removal protection because of a high blood lead reading, voluntarily leaves his job and applies for employment in another company where he will have exposure to lead to a degree which would require medical surveillance. His pre-employment examination at the new company shows his blood lead to be 45 ug/dl, the same as it was when he left his previous employer.
Question 1: Is it necessary for his previous employer to continue benefits (assuming that he has no medical problems) relative only to his elevated blood lead after he leaves employment voluntarily.
Question 2: May the new employer place him into lead exposure involving more than exposure to an air lead of 30 ug/m3 air since he never had, with that new employer, a blood lead which exceeded a level requiring removal?
Answer: Paragraph (j)(3)(i)(b) of 29 CFR 1910.1025 a requires a pre-assignment medical examination for employees who will be exposed above the action level for more than 30 days per year. A proper examination includes a complete work and medical history (see 1910.1025(j)(3)(ii)(a).
Accordingly, the attending physician should conclude that the employee was in the process of recovering from a removal-level blood lead. The ensuing physician review process should therefore lead to a conclusion preventing the employee from working at a location where exposure exceeds the action level until his blood lead falls below the return level (see 1910.1025(k)(ii)(a)).
Please feel free to contact us if we can be of further assistance.
John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations
November 26, 1984
Occupational Safety and Health
Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20210
I am writing with regard to the OSHA Lead Standard.
A person becomes employed in a job involving lead exposure. The blood lead at the time of the pre-employment examination is 15 ug/dl. The blood lead is rechecked after six months of employment and found to be 65 ug/dl and this value is confirmed at 64 ug/dl on a repeat specimen taken within two weeks. The individual is placed on MRP in an environment which has less than 30 ug lead per cubic meter of air. Blood leads are monitored monthly. After three months, the blood lead is 45 ug/dl. At that point the employee voluntarily leaves the company where he will have exposure to lead to a degree which would require medical surveillance. He is given a pre-employment examination. On that pre-employment examination his blood lead is found to be 45 ug/dl.
Based on the above, I have a number of questions which I would appreciate your answering.
1. Is it necessary for his previous employer to continue any benefits (assuming that he has no medical problems) relative only to his elevated blood lead after he leaves employment voluntarily?
2. May the new employer place him into lead exposure involving more than exposure to an air lead of 30 ug/m3 air since be never had, with that new employer, a blood lead which exceeded a level requiring removal?
I would appreciate your answers relative to legal requirements and not as may be influenced by good medical practice which I consider to be a truly necessary but -- for the purposes here -- not relevant, since I am only interested in what the legal requirements may be under the OSHA Lead Standard.
Thank you very much.
Very truly yours,
Sidney Lerner, M.D.