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Fight Lead Hazards in the Workplace

Lead and lead alloys are toxic metals that are used to make batteries, ammunition, plumbing, paint and ceramic glazes. Exposure to lead can cause harmful effects to the body. Due to these dangers, lead use has decreased or has been removed. However, lead is still used in industries like construction, mining and manufacturing putting workers at risk of contact.

Exposure

According to a study, occupational exposure is the main cause of lead poisoning in adults. By inhaling lead dust and lead fumes or eating, drinking and smoking in contaminated areas, workers place themselves and their families at risk. Lead poisoning affects the brain and the nervous system. Red blood cells, kidneys and reproductive systems can also be affected. Although symptoms and effects of lead poisoning will differ from one person to another, it is best to get checked. Blood lead tests can determine if you have a higher level of lead than normal.

Prevention

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration placed standards to prevent lead hazards in the general industry, shipyard employment and construction industry. As stated in OSHA’s Code of Federal Regulations for lead, employers are required to give respiratory protection and protective clothing for workers exposed to lead levels above the permissible exposure limit.  Exhaust ventilation is also important to regulate air thus reducing the levels of lead in the air. Hygiene also plays an important role in lead safe work practices. Make sure to wash hands and face before eating and to shower, wash hair and change into clean clothes before leaving the workplace.

Training

Employers are required to conduct training to their employees to inform them of the hazards and safe practices with regards to lead. Safety supervisors may take OSHA 30-hour classes online to keep abreast with the standards. OSHA requires that employees should have training in the language they understand best. The OSHA30-hour construction outreach in Spanish is also available online.  

Lead standards contain important information to protect you from hazards. It is of great significance if your employer and you will work hand in hand to prevent exposure.

Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/lead/

https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_Hurricane_Facts/LeadHazards.pdf

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