NIOSH Releases Lead Exposure Guidance
The National Institute of Occupational Safety released a new set of guidelines in an effort to reduce lead pipe removal and replacement hazards.
Workplace Solutions: Reducing Workers’ Lead Exposure during Water Service Line Removal and Replacement offers strategies for replacing lead service lines.
With more than six million lead water service lines across the country, workers removing aging pipes are frequently exposed to lead pipes or contaminated soil.
NIOSH created the resource after completing a 2019 health evaluation of city water department employees who were replacing water service lines.
Lead serves no useful purpose in the body and long-term exposure can cause various medical problems related to an individual’s nervous system, fertility, kidneys, and blood pressure.
Workers exposed to lead may also contaminate their family when bringing it home on their skin, clothes, cell phones, or car.
NIOSH’s recommendations are founded on the hierarchy of controls.
Steps NIOSH encourages include:
- Developing a written lead-monitoring and control program, hazard communication program, and job-hazard analysis
- Monitoring airborne exposures and ensure compliance with the OSHA lead standard
- Providing portable HEPA-filtered vacuums to clean vehicles in the field, in addition to regular cleaning of work vehicles
- Providing proper training and hygiene instructions especially for new workers on the handling of lead.
- Providing lead exposure surveillance monitoring
- Requiring/encouraging workers to wear appropriate personal protective equipment
- Consider using colorimetric wipe test kits which will help identify sources of exposure and provide an indicator of decontamination and hygiene practices.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Phillip Montgomery.
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