Lead

OSHA estimates that approximately 838,000 workers in construction are potentially exposed to lead.

When construction activities disturb painted structures, sampling must be done to test for the presence of lead.  December 31, 1977 was the cut-off date for testing in wall paints.  For some commercial structures, lead may still be present in special application paints.

Lead significantly affects young children and pregnant women.  For this reason, the EPA has established the RRP Rule (Repair Renovate Painting). RRP requires workers to be certified and trained in the use of lead-safe work practices and requires renovation, repair, and painting firms to be EPA-certified.  This rule affects houses and building where children may reside or spend a significant amount of time.

Lead Poisoning Symptoms

  • Persistent tiredness                            
  • Hyperactivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced attention span
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Constipation

Health Hazards

  • Birth defects
  • Kidney damage
  • Permanent brain and nerve damage
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Lead affects our body’s ability to function. 
  • It affects so many areas of the body that a doctor cannot diagnose lead poising without a Blood Lead Level test

Exposure Limits

  • The amount of lead needed to affect the body is so small that dust cannot be relied on for detection
  • The amount allowed in the air is 50 mg/ m3
  • If leaded dust is in the air and it is visible, then you are probably over the allowable limit
  • Even if the dust is controlled, there is still a hazard of a hand to mouth exposure
  • Good hygiene is important to prevent the ingestion of lead
  • Work practice and engineering controls are best to reduce the exposure of lead
  • If you are working on a job where lead is present, remember to protect your family and KEEP THE LEAD AT WORK
  • Remember good hygiene is the best thing you can do to protect your family from bringing lead residue home

Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Do you know someone who has had an exposure to lead?
  • Are there activities at home that might expose you or your family to lead?