OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA LAUNCHES NATIONAL EMPHASIS PROGRAM TO REDUCE LEAD EXPOSURE
(Washington) The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today a national emphasis program aimed at reducing occupational exposure to lead, one of the leading causes of workplace illnesses.
"Occupational exposure to lead is still one of the most prevalent overexposures found throughout industry," said R. Davis Layne, acting OSHA administrator. "It's imperative we do all we can to reduce that exposure to workers. This national emphasis program will help us focus inspection efforts on worksites involved in lead-related activities."
The program will apply to all workplaces under OSHA's jurisdiction including general industry, construction, longshoring, maritime, and shipyards. Details of the program are contained in a compliance directive Layne issued to OSHA's field offices today. The compliance directive includes, as a resource, a list of standard industrial codes for which high exposure levels have been demonstrated or for which high blood lead levels have been documented.
The program will cover complaints and referrals, and will set targeted inspections in industries or worksites where there is a potential for lead exposure. OSHA area offices throughout the country will develop a list of establishments under their jurisdiction which are likely to be involved in lead-related activities. Inspections will include establishments with fewer than ten employees.
OSHA hopes to reduce occupational lead exposures by 15%; by the end of FY2002, a goal established in the agency's Strategic Plan. Under that goal, OSHA committed to reduce three of the most prevalent types of workplace injuries and illnesses -- amputations, plus the hazards associated with exposure to silica and lead.
Lead is a systemic poison. Overexposure to lead can damage blood-forming, nervous, urinary and reproductive systems. It is commonly added to industrial paints because of its characteristic to resist corrosion and add certain color characteristics. Industries with particularly high potential exposures include: construction that involves welding, cutting, brazing, blasting, etc., on lead paint surfaces; most smelter operations either as a trace contaminant or as a major product; secondary lead smelters where lead is recovered from batteries; radiator repair shops; and firing ranges.
The twenty-four states and two territories which operate their own OSHA programs are encouraged, but not required, to adopt a similar emphasis program. The OSHA directive on this emphasis program is available on OSHA's website at www.osha.gov under Regulations and Compliance, subcategory Compliance Directives, No. CPL 2-0.130.
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The text of this news release is available on the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov. Information on this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 693-1999.
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