The Cal/OSHA Standards Board is proposing revised regulations on workplace exposure to lead in general industry and construction.
On March 3, Cal/OSHA published a notice of proposed revised regulations indicating that existing requirements are based on lead toxicity information and medical data that’s more than 40 years old.
According to the board, more recent evidence demonstrates that lower levels of lead exposure may have harmful health effects.
Blood lead levels would have lower thresholds
These proposed amendments to the regulations are designed to mitigate the harmful health effects from lower levels of exposure by maintaining employee blood levels below 10 micrograms per deciliter, according to law firm Jackson Lewis.
Current regulations were designed to maintain employee blood lead levels below 40 micrograms per deciliter, four times higher than what’s proposed under the new amendments.
To achieve this reduction in exposure, the revisions would:
- reduce exposure to airborne lead
- reduce exposure to lead through oral routes of exposure, and
- expand requirements of blood lead testing of employees who work with lead, independent of the measured levels of airborne lead.
These revisions lower the:
- action levels under a time-weighted average for when protective measures are triggered
- lowers the blood lead level requirement for when employees must be offered medical examinations and consultations at least annually, and
- lowers the criteria for the temporary removal of an employee from work with lead due to elevated blood lead levels.
Public comment period is ongoing
Cal/OSHA “anticipates the revisions will reduce the number of employees exposed to harmful amounts of lead.”
A 45-day public comment period will remain open until April 20, 2023. Cal/OSHA will hold a public hearing on the proposed revisions on the same date.