- OSHA Lead in Construction Advisor
Why is a rigorous housekeeping program required regardless of the airborne exposure level? Why is adherence to personal hygiene practices required if exposure is above the PEL?
Lead is a cumulative and persistent toxic substance that poses a serious health risk. A rigorous housekeeping program and adherence to basic personal hygiene practices will minimize employee exposure to lead. In addition, these two elements of the worker protection program will help to prevent taking lead contaminated dust out of the worksite and home to the workers' families. This ensures the duration of lead exposure does not extend beyond the workshift and provides added protection to employees and their families.
What is an effective housekeeping program?
An effective housekeeping program involves at least daily removal of accumulations of lead dust and lead-containing debris. Vacuuming lead dust with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered equipment or wetting it with water before sweeping are effective control measures. Such cleaning operations should be conducted, whenever possible, at the end of the day, after normal operations cease. Furthermore, all persons doing the cleanup should be provided with suitable respiratory protection and personal protective clothing to prevent contact with lead.
In addition, employers must collect all lead-containing debris and contaminated items accumulated for disposal and put them into closed containers, impermeable bags or other sealed impermeable containers. Bags and containers should be appropriately labeled as lead-containing waste. These measures are especially important as they minimize additional sources of exposure that engineering controls generally are not designed to control.
Note that the disposal lead debris the Environmental Protection Agency regulates.