March 2023 Occupational Health Watch
Cal/OSHA Proposes New Occupational Lead
More than a decade after first seeking input from advisory committees, Cal/OSHA has proposed updates on the lead standards for general industry and construction to the California Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board (OSHSB).
Each year, over two thousand adults in California sustain lead poisoning from workplace exposure. Industries with workers who have especially high blood lead levels include painting contractors, battery manufacturing and recycling, and shooting ranges.
California's current lead standards are based on the original federal OSHA general industry standard, adopted in 1978. Since that time, significant scientific evidence has emerged that much lower levels of lead in the blood than currently permitted for workers in the standards can have serious long-term health consequences, including high blood pressure, decreased kidney function, tremor, sperm effects, and low birth weight.
The proposed regulations intend to further protect workers from lead by lowering the action level and permissible exposure limit for airborne lead, establishing additional hygiene requirements, and lowering the blood lead levels at which medical removal protection from lead work is required. These measures will protect both workers and members of their households, including pregnant women and children, from exposure to lead dust inadvertently carried home from the workplace.
The OSHSB has posted the draft standards and initiated a public comment period, ending April 20, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. Those wishing to provide written comments on the proposed lead standards to the OSHSB by this date may do so by following the instructions in the “Notice / informative digest" listed in the Resources section below; both mail and email (email@example.com) are accepted.
OSHSB Website for Rulemaking Documents
Email OHW@cdph.ca.gov with feedback about this update or change of address.