Do you know what the most violated Oregon OSHA construction-industry health rule was in 2011? That was paragraph 1926.62(d) of the lead standard, which requires an exposure assessment if lead is present where employees will be working. There were 28 violations of 1926.62(d), 26 of which were serious; total initial penalties for the 28 violations were $4,900. The requirement says that if lead is present where your employees will be working, you'll need to determine whether they'll be exposed above the action level. How do you know whether lead is present and how do you know if you employees could be overexposed? Here are answers to these frequently asked questions.
How do I determine whether lead is present where my employees are working? Sample the material they'll be working with and find out if it contains lead. If your employees will be working on a home that was built before 1978, the best thing to do is hire a certified lead-based paint inspector or a risk assessor, who can tell you if lead is present and how much is there. Lead paint test kits are also available, but they may not be 100 percent reliable.
How do I know if my employees are overexposed? There's only one way to know: Sample the air they breathe while they're working. This is called air monitoring or exposure monitoring. You can do air monitoring yourself if you know how and if you have the equipment, which you can rent. You can also hire a consultant or your workers' compensation insurance carrier may be able to help. If your employees are exposed to lead at or above the action level – 30 micrograms per cubic meter of air (30 μg/m3) averaged over an eight-hour period – they're overexposed.
For more information on the lead exposure assessment, and to find out how to comply with 1926.62(d) and other parts of the lead standard, see Oregon OSHA's new Lead in construction fact sheet and Oregon OSHA's Quick Guide to 1926.62.