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Lead Astray

OSHA proposes new rule to combat widespread contamination in U.S. cities

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that its Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise its standards for occupational exposure to lead.

Recent medical research on workplace lead exposure shows adverse health effects can occur in adults at lower blood lead levels than recognized previously in the medical removal levels specified in OSHA's lead standards.

The rule was proposed before the recent water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi, but motivated by similar patterns in other U.S. locations. A number of other major American cities face water shortages or severe impurities that officials say are based on years-long issues.

The ANPRM seeks public input on modifying current OSHA lead standards for general industry and construction to reduce the triggers for medical removal protection and medical surveillance and prevent harmful health effects in workers exposed to lead more effectively.

OSHA asks the public to comment on the following areas of the lead standards:

  • Blood lead level triggers for medical removal protection.

  • Medical surveillance provisions, including triggers and frequency of blood lead monitoring.

  • Permissible exposure limit.

  • Ancillary provisions for personal protective equipment, housekeeping, hygiene and training.

The ANPRM will also gather comments on employers' current practices that address workplace lead exposure and associated costs and other areas of interest.

Read the Federal Register notice for submission instructions. Submit comments online by Aug. 29, 2022, on the federal e-Rulemaking portal and refer to Docket No. OSHA-2018-0004.

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