- 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.
June 13, 1995
David L. Mummert, CIH
Director, Health and Safety
Post Office Box 551
Findlay, Ohio 45839
Dear Mr. Mummert:
This is in response to your letter of November 23, 1994, regarding compliance with medical surveillance requirements for lead exposure during hazardous waste site operations. As you noted in your letter, paragraph (a)(2)(i) of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Standard (29 CFR 1910.120 for General Industry; 29 CFR 1926.65 for Construction) mandates compliance with the medical surveillance provisions of the OSHA Lead Standard (29 CFR 1926.62) on hazardous waste site operations that involve potential lead exposures. We apologize for the delay in our response to you.
Your letter requested clarification of the biological monitoring requirements of the Lead Standard and the application of these requirements to OHM projects. In general, your questions do not provide sufficient information to determine the applicability of the biological monitoring requirements to your specific workplace scenarios. The following clarification however, is provided to assist you in determining OHM's biological monitoring responsibilities on projects that may involve employee lead exposure.
You indicated that your employer, OHM Remediation Service Corp (OHM), works on several hazardous waste remediation projects that may involve lead exposure and provided the following as examples of related OHM projects: excavation of soils with low levels of lead contamination; remediation activities in a foundry where lead based paint may have been used; and cleanup of a landfill where battery casings have been discovered.
The biological monitoring requirements of the Lead Standard, are triggered based on the potential for employee exposure to lead. For each project where lead may be present, OHM is required under 29 CFR 1926.62(d)(1)(i) to initially assess if any employee is or may be exposed to lead at or above the action level. For those tasks specifically covered under the Lead Standard, OHM must provide employees with interim protection (including biological monitoring) in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.62(d)(2)(v) until the exposure assessment is complete. The use of engineering or other workplace controls that will limit airborne concentration of lead in the workplace to below the action level may be considered in the required exposure assessment. Paragraph (d)(1)(ii) of the Lead Standard precludes employers from considering the use of a respirator in the assessment of potential employee exposure.
Where the exposure assessment indicates that an employee has been exposed to lead at or above the action level on any one day, OHM must make available to that employee initial medical surveillance (biological monitoring) in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.62(j)(1)(i). Although OSHA recommends that this initial medical surveillance be provided prior to the employee's job assignment, the employer may provide this medical surveillance within a reasonable time period after the employee has had an exposure at or above the action level (for the purposes of this requirement, OSHA considers within 48 hours a reasonable time period). The purpose of this initial biological monitoring is to determine the employee's existing blood-lead burden to facilitate the early detection of potential effects associated with lead exposure and to evaluate the need for continued or follow-up monitoring of employees in accordance with 29 CFR 1926.62(j)(2)(i) and (ii).
For those employees that OHM determines are or may be exposed to lead at or above the action level for more than 30 days in any 12 consecutive months, OHM must institute a medical surveillance program that includes the biological monitoring requirements of 29 CFR 1926.62(j)(2). The required frequency of these biological monitoring requirements is established in paragraphs (j)(2)(i) and (j)(2)(ii) of the standard with a minimum blood sampling and analysis frequency of at least every two months for the first six months and every six months thereafter; greater frequencies and follow-up sampling can be triggered based on analysis of blood samples (see paragraphs (j)(2)(i)(B)-(C) and (j)(2)(ii) of the standard).
OHM should note that the routine biological monitoring required under 29 CFR 1926.62(j)(1)(ii) is triggered based on actual and potential exposures at or above the action level. In other words, if an employer has reason to believe that employees could be exposed to lead at or above the action level for more than 30 days a year, then the employer would immediately implement the medical surveillance program and would not wait until the 30th day of actual lead exposure. In addition, OHM must determine each employees' potential for exposure at or above the action level on all projects that the employee is expected to work on during a 12 consecutive month period, not just on the employee's current project assignment. For instance, if an employee works on three separate projects over 12 consecutive months, OHM must consider the employee's potential for exposure on each project when evaluating if the action level is met or exceeded for more than 30 days a year.
In cases where OHM determines that an employee is not exposed to airborne concentrations of lead at or above the action level, OHM must document this negative determination in accordance with paragraphs (d)(5) and (n)(4) of the standard.
Your letter included several questions concerning "pre- and post-project" biological monitoring requirements. Please note that such monitoring requirements are not mandated under the Lead Standard. Paragraph (f)(3) of the HAZWOPER standard does require medical examinations prior to initial job assignment, at job termination, or upon reassignment to a job where the employee would not be included in a medical surveillance program; however, the content of these "pre- and post-project" examinations (including the need for biological monitoring) would be determined by the examining physician.
If OHM provides "pre- and post-project" biological monitoring, the "pre-project" monitoring could fulfill the initial biological monitoring requirement of the Lead Standard provided that any required periodic or follow-up biological monitoring were performed in accordance with paragraph (j)(2) of the standard. Post-project" biological monitoring, however, may not preclude the need for additional biological monitoring beyond the completion of a lead related project. Under the Lead Standard, an employee would not be withdrawn from the medical surveillance program unless there was no further potential for that employee to be occupationally exposed to lead at or above the action level in the next consecutive 12 months and the employee's two most recent blood sampling results indicated blood lead levels below 40 ug/dl.
We hope this information provides useful clarification. If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Health Compliance Assistance at (202) 219-8036.
Ruth McCully, Director
Office of Health Compliance Assistance
November 23, 1994
Ms. Mary Ann Garrahan
Office of Health Compliance Assistance
Occupational Safety and Health
Rm. North 3467
200 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20201
Dear Ms. Garrahan:
OHM Remediation Services Corp (OHM) requests a clarification on medical surveillance requirements detailed in 29 CFR 1926.62 Lead in relation to the requirements for hazardous waste site operations governed by 29 CFR 1910.120. OHM complies with the medical surveillance requirements of 29 CFR 1910.120(f), however OHM does not perform biological monitoring as required by 29 CFR 1926.62(j)(2) for blood lead and zinc protoporphyrin (ZPP) as part of the standard medical surveillance program. OHM understands that 29 CFR 1910.120(a)(2)(i) requires compliance with the provisions which are most protective of employee's safety and health. The specific questions are listed at the conclusion of this letter.
As background, OHM is a hazardous waste site remediation and onsite treatment company and performs work for the U.S. EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, DOD, DOE, and private clients. Projects can include emergency responses to hazardous material releases, decontamination and closure of abandoned sites containing hazardous wastes, onsite treatment of hazardous materials, and facility decontamination. These projects can range in length from a single day to several years depending on the situation.
Due to the broad nature of OHM's services, there are a number of projects where lead may be present as a contaminant in minor concentrations or lead is a secondary concern to another material. Other situations may require entry into sites which are not completely characterized and lead-containing materials are identified at some point during project activities. Examples of some of these situations are as follows:
* Excavation of soils contaminated by lead at unacceptable concentrations under RCRA recognizing that these concentrations pose a low exposure hazard to remediation workers.
* Entry into an old foundry to remediate acid and cyanide contamination where lead based paint may be present on piping and other structures such as walls. Cleanup activities may dislodge some of this lead-containing material.
* During the ongoing cleanup of an abandoned landfill a large amount of crushed battery casings are discovered which may indicate the presence of lead contamination.
For clarification please provide guidance on the following questions:
1.) According to 1926.62(j)(1)(ii) the employer shall institute medical surveillance for all employees who are and maybe exposed to lead at or above the action level for greater than 30 days per year. Is biological monitoring, specifically the collection of blood samples for analysis of blood lead concentration and ZPP, required to be provided to project personnel for each of the preceding projects and if so at what frequency?
2.) If workers are protected against the primary contaminants and this protection is appropriate for control of lead exposure, must lead biological monitoring and air sampling requirements be followed?
3.) If biological lead monitoring is required and a project's duration is typically less than 6 months, does pre- and post-project biological lead monitoring meet the requirement of the lead standard?
4.) Could work continue on these projects without providing personnel with biological lead monitoring while air samples are collected and analyzed to determine if personnel lead exposures exceed the action level for 30 workdays during the project?
5.) If biological lead monitoring is required prior to air monitoring being conducted and if during these projects sufficient air samples are collected indicating the action level of 30 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air (ug/m(3)) is not being exceeded over 30 workdays during the project, must post-project blood lead and ZPP samples be collected?
6.) Is it the primary requirement of collecting pre-project blood samples on workers prior to assignment to a lead project to document baseline blood lead and ZPP concentrations or is this test used to identify and exclude workers who may have already reached a 50 ug/dl level through non-occupational sources?
7.) Personnel may work on a number of projects which may meet the established requirements for collecting blood samples. Consider the following work schedule: an employee spends 60 days on a project requiring blood samples and the post-project sample shows no elevation of blood lead and ZPP concentrations. The employee spends the next 30 to 90 days on a project with no recognized lead exposure. After this project, the employee is assigned again to another lead project.
Would a new pre-project blood sample be required or could the post-project samples collected some months ago suffice to meet the regulatory requirement of prior to assignment or pre-project samples?
I look forward to your response at the earliest convenient date. If you have any questions, please contact me at (800) 537-9540 extensions 6129.
David L Mummert, CIH
Director, Health and Safety