- OSHA Lead in Construction Advisor
What are effective personal hygiene practices?
To minimize exposure to lead, the employer must provide and ensure that workers use washing facilities. Clean change areas and separate eating areas (which are as free as practicable from lead contamination) also must be provided if employees are exposed above the PEL.
Cars should be parked where they will not be contaminated with lead. These measures will reduce the worker's period of exposure to lead and the ingestion of lead, ensure that the duration of lead exposure does not extend beyond the workshift, significantly reduce the movement of lead from the worksite and provide added protection to employees and their families.
What is a clean change area?
Where employees are exposed above the PEL, the employer must provide a clean change area equipped with storage facilities for street clothes and a separate area with facilities for the removal and storage of lead-contaminated protective work clothing and equipment. This separation is essential in preventing cross contamination of the employee's clothing.
Clean change areas are to be used for taking off street clothes, suiting up in clean working clothes (protective clothing), donning respirators prior to beginning work and dressing in street clothes after work. No lead-contaminated items should enter this area.
Contaminated work clothing must not be worn out of the job site. Under no circumstances shall lead-contaminated work clothes be laundered at home or taken from the worksite, except to be laundered professionally or properly disposed of following applicable Federal, state and local regulations.
Showers: When there is employee exposure above the PEL, shower facilities must be provided (if feasible) so that exposed employees can wash lead from their skin and hair prior to leaving the worksite. Where showers are provided, employees must change out of their work clothes and shower before changing into their street clothes and leaving the worksite.
Workers who do not change into clean clothing before leaving the worksite may contaminate their homes and automobiles with lead dust. Other members of the household then may be exposed to harmful amounts of lead.
What are the requirements for personal practices? (eating,drinking, etc.)
Employers must ensure that employees who are in work areas where any employee is exposed to lead above the PEL either clean or remove their protective clothing and wash their hands and face prior to eating, drinking, smoking or applying cosmetics. Employers must ensure that these latter practices are never permitted while in the work area or in areas subject to the accumulation of lead. HEPA vacuuming can be used to remove loose contamination from the work clothing prior to eating.
What are the requirements for washing facilities?
Employers must provide adequate washing facilities for employees. Such facilities must be in near proximity to the worksite and provided with water, soap and clean towels to enable employees to remove lead contamination from their skin.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires that contaminated water from washing facilities and showers must be disposed of in accordance with applicable local, state or Federal regulations.
What procedures should workers who are exposed to lead follow at the end of the day?
Workers who are exposed to lead should follow these procedures, where applicable, upon finishing work for the day:
- Place disposable coveralls and shoe covers with the lead waste;
- Place lead-contaminated clothes, including work shoes (if being cleaned, laundered or disposed of) and personal protective equipment, for laundering/cleaning by the employer in a closed container;
- Take a shower and wash hair when exposed above the PEL; and
- Change into street clothes.