Lead Lead, Inorganic Hazard Overview Solutions Regulations Learn More Hazard Overview What is lead? Lead is one of the oldest elements known to man and is characterized as a soft, malleable blue gray metal that has a relatively low melting point. Lead is used in the manufacture of items such as, but not limited to, ammunition, surface coatings, lead acid batteries, and solder. What are the hazards associated with exposure to lead? Exposure to lead can occur by inhalation of particulates (dust and fumes) or by ingestion of contaminated food and drink due to poor housekeeping and handwashing practices. Lead is a systemic poison that mainly affects the nervous system, but can also affect the reproductive system, kidneys and the hematopoietic (blood forming) system. In addition, lead that cannot be readily excreted from the body is stored in the bone marrow. Is there a special emphasis program associated with this topic? Occupational exposure to lead falls within the OSH Division health hazards special emphasis program. Solutions What can I do to protect myself? Adequate ventilation, preferably local exhaust ventilation, should be used when heating lead or lead-containing materials or when otherwise removing lead-containing materials by mechanical means. Proper handwashing with soap and running water should be performed after working with lead-containing materials and before consumption of food and drink. Employers are required to provide workers engaged in the use of lead or removal of lead containing coatings or any other lead materials with the appropriate type of respirator until an exposure assessment determines that exposure levels are below the permissible exposure limit. What resources are available to assist employers? Safety and Health Programs Example programs that are applicable to occupational exposure to lead and which should be customized to fit individual workplaces include hazard communication program, respiratory protection program, hazardous chemicals and the PPE hazard assessment. Training and Outreach Services The presentations on hazard communication, respiratory protection, and personal protective equipment can be modified to aid the employer in providing the required training. In addition, the education, training and technical assistance bureau provides free online safety and health training and outreach services (i.e., speaker's bureau requests, safety booths) upon request. Further, the following pre-recorded webinars are also available to assist with training; respiratory protection, health hazards: special emphasis programs and hazard communication. Lastly, the NCDOL Library offers free safety and health videos (including streaming video services) and related research assistance on consensus standards (i.e., ANSI, NFPA, NEC). A-Z Safety and Health Topics More resources can be found on the A-Z topics pages for personal protective equipment, hazard communication, silica and respiratory protection. Consultation Services The consultative services bureau provides free and confidential onsite consultation regarding worksite safety and health hazards. Regulations Which standards apply? OSH had adopted the following standards related to lead exposures in North Carolina. Note: Please also check the standards information and activity webpage to see if there has been any recent or upcoming regulatory activity on this topic. General Industry 29 CFR 1910.1025 - lead Other standards that apply, or may apply, to occupational exposure to lead in general industry: 29 CFR 1910.134 - respiratory protection 29 CFR 1910.1020 - access to employee exposure and medical records 29 CFR 1910.1053 - silica 29 CFR 1910.1200 - hazard communication Construction 29 CFR 1926.62 - lead Other standards that apply, or may apply, to occupational exposure to lead in construction: 29 CFR 1926.59 - hazard communication 29 CFR 1926.1153 - silica Other Applicable Standards The Which OSHA Standards Apply webpage can also help identify other standards that may be applicable to your worksite. Learn More Where can I learn more? Industry Guides Additional information on lead as it applies to construction can be found in A Guide to Lead Exposure in the Construction Industry. Industry Guide 48 - OSHA Construction Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for standards related to occupational exposure to lead and other related standards. Industry Guide 49 - OSHA General Industry Standards Requiring Programs, Inspections, Procedures, Records and/or Training provides requirements for standards related to occupational exposure to lead and other related standards. Compliance Documents Compliance Directive: CPL 02-02-058 establishes enforcement policy and provides an explanation of the lead in construction standard to ensure uniform enforcement. Operational Procedure Notice: OPN 135, Health Hazards Special Emphasis Program, establishes enforcement guidance for inspections of work places where occupational exposure to the following specific air contaminants is, or may be, present: asbestos, lead, hexavalent chromium, isocyanates and respirable crystalline silica. Technical Assistance If you would like to receive interpretive guidance on this or any other OSH standard or topic, you can submit your questions using the Ask OSH web form, by e-mail to email@example.com or by calling 919-707-7876.