Construction Depot Newsletter

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

January 13, 2012

image of lead in the periodic table

Understanding what’s new in Oregon OSHA’s lead rules

Effective Dec. 8, 2011, Oregon’s construction employers will see some minor changes to Division 3/D, 1926.62, Lead, that are a result of federal OSHA’s Standards Improvement Project. Also, a new Oregon OSHA-initiated rule, 437-003-0062, Lead Respiratory Protection Program, goes into effect July 1, 2012. Here’s what you need to know about these changes:

Medical surveillance/blood lead levels (1926.62, Lead)

The blood lead levels at which employers must act to protect employees have been clarified as part of the medical surveillance requirements for employees exposed to lead. The federal revisions clarify that blood lead levels “at or above” the numerical criteria require removal and notification and that employee blood lead levels must be “below” that number before the employee can return to work. The affected paragraphs are 1926.62(j)(2)(ii), (j)(2)(iv)(B), and (k)(1)(iii)(A)(1). The revisions make the requirements in the general industry and construction lead rules consistent.

Transfer of exposure and medical records (1926.62, Lead)

Gone is the old requirement in 1926.62 for employers to transfer certain exposure and medical records to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) when there is no successor employer. There’s also a clearer reference to 1910.1020, Employee Access to Exposure and Medical Records, which is the rule that defines employees’ rights to obtain these records and the employer’s responsibility to maintain them.

Respiratory protection (437-003-0062, Lead Respiratory Protection Program)

Under the new Oregon OSHA rule, effective July 1, 2012, employers must implement a respiratory protection program that includes two additional requirements from 1910.134, Respiratory protection:1910.134(e), Medical evaluation and 1910.134(o), Appendices.

Employers must provide a respirator medical evaluation – as specified in 1910.134(e) – to determine the employee’s ability to wear a respirator without adverse health effects before an employee is fit tested or required to use a respirator. In most instances, the change in the requirement for a respirator medical evaluation is a change in timing; many employers already provide respirator medical evaluations based on the requirements for exposure to other air contaminants.

1910.134(o) says that all the Appendices to 1910.134 apply, providing construction employers with approved procedures and protocols. These include Appendix A,Fit Testing Procedures; Appendix B-1,User Seal Check Procedures; Appendix B-2, Respirator Cleaning Procedures; Appendix C, OSHA Respirator Medical Evaluation Questionnaire; and Appendix D, Information for Employees Using Respirators When Not Required under the Standard.

Under the lead rule, employers must provide employees with appropriate respirators when:

  • They’re doing any “trigger task” – when respirators provide interim protection while employees perform the operations specified in paragraph 1926.62 (d)(2)
  • Employee exposure to lead is greater than the PEL
  • Engineering and administrative controls do not reduce employee exposures to or below the PEL
  • An employee requests a respirator
These requirements are in addition to other respiratory protection and medical surveillance requirements in 1926.62, Lead.

 

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