Paint with lead and the dust it generates is now considered to be a serious health hazard due to its high level of toxicity. Besides being poisonous, lead is also a persistent pollutant with an extended reach due to its presence in the natural environment via manmade structures.
It has a number of symptoms which are similar to other causes and which can eventually lead to death if left undiagnosed. For instance, exposure to lead can prevent the development of cognitive abilities in children which can lead to mental health issues at an early age.
In the last couple of years a number of federal and state laws have been introduced that protect workers from lead exposure in the workplace. Personnel such as maintenance staff, contractors, painters and property owners have to adhere to these regulations to avoid penalties and fines.
Some common rules that can help with compliance include:
- Maintaining property and ensuring that the paint is not chipped in places.
- Assuming that the paint job on a house that was made before 1978 has lead in it.
- Using work practices during remodeling and renovations that are lead-safe and can be contained easily to prevent exposure.
- Making sure lead hazards are disclosed to tenants and potential buyers beforehand.
Disposing lead based paint
Proper disposal is necessary for all lead based products that can harm with exposure. A leachate extraction test can determine dangerous levels. If the results are 5 mg/L for lead that means that the paint has toxic levels of the substance and should be disposed of immediately via a hazardous waste disposal service.
In any case, the lead based paint cannot be disposed of at a regional solid waste landfill or a C&D site if it is leachable toxic. If the paint has a lead content of less than 1000 ml/kg then it can be discarded in landfills and a C&D site that has been approved by the environment regulating authorities in your state.
However, this is only applicable to objects that contain lead based paint and which is not chipping or peeling off. Objects that have peeling paint cannot be disposed of in C&D sites but these regulations differ according to state.
For instance in California, paint chips that comprise of lead or dust have to be treated as hazardous waste materials. In addition, workers who handle this paint have to adhere to certain safety precautions. This includes:
- Collecting all lead based debris such as paint chips in trash bags that can be disposed off easily.
- Ensuring that larger lead based materials are stored in containers that can be disposed off easily.
- Ensuring that all lead based waste and debris is stored in a locked and covered dumpster until operations are complete. All debris that is plastic wrapped should be kept under lock and key in a separate room till it is ready to be disposed of.
OSHA 30 Hour General Industry Outreach
To ensure workers are not exposed to lead or any other harmful substance at a construction site, supervisors should undergo appropriate safety training. The OSHA 30 Hour General Industry Outreach training program is designed for foremen, site inspectors and supervisors and anyone who is involved in the general industry.
The program covers comprehensive OSHA compliance issues such as common health and safety hazards in the workplace, responsibilities of employers and the right of employees to a safe work environment. Students who take the course will learn how to recognize hazards, preventive measures to avoid them, how to eliminate or limit exposure.
At the end of the course students can download their completion card from the website prior to receiving their 30 hour OSHA card within 6 to 8 weeks.
Please be advised that this course is in no way associated with OSHA 511 and 510. It is an outreach training program which is meant to increase awareness about occupational health and safety for workers in the general industry.
In order to be eligible for the card students have to pass the final exam with a score of 70% or more. 3 tries are allowed to pass the quiz and failing students are permanently locked out of the program. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Sign up for the course today.