Lead exposure in the workplace

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2019 | Workers' Compensation

Employers in Pennsylvania have a duty to protect their workers from inorganic lead exposure. OSHA’s lead standards cover general industries as well as construction sites and shipyards in particular. Most workers are exposed to this material by inhaling lead-containing dust and fumes or by ingestion via lead-contaminated hands or clothing. Therefore, it’s important for employers to first identify these safety risks.

Working around lead-based paint is one of the most hazardous tasks. The use of lead as a corrosion inhibitor and pigment for paint was banned in 1977, but some workers will be exposed to it if they are, for example, demolishing a building that dates from before that time. There is also the danger of exposure when installing, maintaining or demolishing lead pipes and fittings, leaded glass and lead linings in tanks.

Furthermore, one may come into contact with lead via solder, plumbing fixtures, lead bullets, radiators and both bronze and brass objects. By extension, those who work at a firing range or repair radiators on cars are also at risk.

Through its Chemical Exposure Health Database, OSHA can present industrial hygiene sample results. This can help the public see which industries and business sub-sectors are more prone to lead exposure. NIOSH’s Adult Blood Epidemiology & Surveillance Program is another source.

Lead exposure can lead to neurological issues, anemia and kidney disease among other conditions. Construction workers who develop a condition that’s linked to lead exposure may be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits. They do not need to prove that negligence played a part to get compensation. Since the filing process can get complicated, a worker might want a lawyer to assist.