In a special guest blog this week, F Marie Athey of OSHAcampus.com details some of the key measures companies must implement in order to protect their workers from the dangers associated with asbestos and lead exposure. These steps can be easily incorporated into facility schedule groups and/or inspections with ManagerPlus.
By F Marie Athey, OHST
OSHA recently fined a New York real estate company over $2.3 million for asbestos and lead exposure violations after it was found that employees and contractors were exposed to these hazards while performing renovation and cleanup activities on a site.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said that the company knew that asbestos and lead were present at this site, and concluded that they therefore willfully neglected to provide for proper protection of its employees.
These infractions carry severe health consequences, as exposure to these hazards can cause disabling or fatal diseases and damage to the nervous and reproductive system. OSHA training courses can provide you and your employees with the information needed to deal with these hazards properly.
Check Your Asbestos Compliance
- Asbestos fibers are released into the air during activities that disturb asbestos-containing materials in construction, renovation and demolition. Companies should note any such activities before beginning a job, and ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided to all workers involved in these projects.
- Employee exposure must be limited to no more than 1 fiber per cubic centimeter of air (f/cc) averaged over 30 minutes.
- The general industry asbestos standards cover everything from brake and clutch repair, to custodial work, to the manufacture of asbestos-containing products. It is important, in other words, to do some research before starting any project—there may be hazards that are not readily apparent that must nevertheless be planned for.
Check Your Lead Compliance
- Workers should use proper work gear that includes gloves, clothing, and approved respirators.
- Employers and supervisors should be alert to lead exposure symptoms, including abdominal pain, headache, and loss of motor coordination.
- When possible, employers should provide lead-free materials and chemicals.
- Workers should decrease dust by using wet cleaning methods.
- Worker lead exposure must be limited to 50 micrograms per cubic meter (µG/m3) of air lead over an 8-hour period.
- Employers must test lead levels every 6 months until two consecutive tests reveal figures below the action level. They must relay the result of the test to employees.