OSHA Seeks to Revise Occupational Lead Exposure Standard 
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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking comments on a proposed rule to revise the agency’s standards on occupational lead exposure in both general industry and construction.

An advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) was published in the June 28 Federal Register.

According to the notice, OSHA is seeking input on blood lead levels for medical input and return to work, as well as:

  • Provisions for medical surveillance, including triggers and frequency of blood lead monitoring
  • Permissible exposure limits
  • Ancillary requirements for personal protective equipment, housekeeping, hygiene, and training


The Current Rule on Occupational Lead Exposure


Workers are exposed to lead as a result of the production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal of lead material and products. Lead exposure occurs in most industry sectors including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, remediation and even recreation.

In the current lead exposure standard (1926.62), OSHA’s blood lead level (BLL) for medical removal is 60 micrograms per deciliter or more for general industry, and 50 micrograms per deciliter or more in construction. The return-to-work BLL is less than 40 micrograms per deciliter.


Related Article: Tampa smelter faces $320K in OSHA fines for lead exposure


OSHA adopted these standards on for general industry in 1978 and for construction in 1992. Since then, studies by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics have suggested that negative health effects can occur at lower blood lead levels than the current standard.

“BLLs as low as 5 μg/dL have been associated with impaired kidney and reproductive function, high blood pressure, and cognitive effects attributed to prenatal exposure,” the ANPRM states.

“Poorer performance on neurocognitive and neuropsychologic assessments were observed in adults with BLLs as low as 5-19 μg/dL compared with adults with BLLs below 5 μg/dL.”

Next Steps


Some state agencies have already revised their standards on lead exposure. For example, Michigan OSHA revised its standards for general industry and construction in 2018. Other states, including Washington and California have begun the process to update standards. 

The comment period for the proposed standard is open until Aug 29. 



About Worksite Medical

In most cases, OSHA requires medical surveillance testing, and at no cost to employees.

Worksite Medical makes that program easier with mobile medical testing.

We conduct on-site respirator fit tests, as well as audiometric exams, pulmonary function tests and heavy metal lab work, right on your job site. We also keep accurate, easy-to-access medical records for your convenience. You’ll keep your employees at work, and stay ahead of OSHA inspections.