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Reduction of Lead Hazards During ConstructionABIH CM APPROVAL #07-1666

Jeffrey Havelin, PE

Employers must be aware of workplace hazards facing their workers and must take appropriate action to minimize or eliminate exposure to these hazards. The interim OSHA standard aims to reduce the exposure to lead for construction workers. The most significant way to achieve this was by lowering the permissible exposure limit (PEL) from 200 micrograms per cubic meter of air as an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA) to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

This three-hour course will review the new interim OSHA standards for lead exposure during construction activities. For the purpose of this standard, lead includes metallic lead, all inorganic lead compounds, and organic lead soaps. OSHAís lead in construction standard applies to all construction work where an employee may be occupationally exposed to lead. All work related to construction, alteration, or repair, including painting and decorating, is included.

Lead is a cumulative and toxic substance. People who swallow or inhale lead compounds may become ill or die from lead poisoning. Although lead is eliminated from the body at a slow rate, inhaling even a small amount of a lead compound over an extended period of time may cause lead poisoning. Immediate symptoms of disease may not be noticeable. As the blood is circulated through the body, lead is stored in various organs and body tissues. The lead stored in the body may be slowly causing irreversible damage: first to the cells, then to the organs, and finally to the whole body system.

Engineering controls reduce employee exposure in the workplace either by removing or isolating the hazard or isolating the worker from exposure through the use of technology. Under the lead in construction standard, mechanical ventilation may be used to control lead exposure. If used, the employer must evaluate, as necessary, the mechanical performance of the system in controlling exposure to maintain its effectiveness.

The course is based upon the U.S. Department of Laborís Program Highlights fact sheet series (Fact Sheet No.ís OSHA 93-47 through 93-52) concerning the topic of lead in construction, combined with information from a U.S. OSHA booklet titled Lead in Construction (OSHA 3142). Additional material was provided by North Carolina Department of Labor Health Standards Officer J. Edgar Geddie, Ph.D, and Health Compliance Supervisor Paul Sullivan.

This course is based entirely on ďA Guide to Lead Exposure in the Construction IndustryĒ published by the N.C. Department of Labor. This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of course materials. You will be quizzed on the attached document in its entirety.


The Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned the use of lead-based paint in residential application. However, since lead-based paint inhibits the rusting and corrosion of iron and steel, it is still used on bridges, railways, ships, lighthouses, and other steel structures, although substitute coatings are available.

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NY PE & PLS: You must choose courses that are technical in nature or related to matters of laws and ethics contributing to the health and welfare of the public. NY Board does not accept courses related to office management, risk management, leadership, marketing, accounting, financial planning, real estate, and basic CAD. Specific course topics that are on the borderline and are not acceptable by the NY Board have been noted under the course description on our website.