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December 18, 2021

Changes to Cal/OSHA Lead Standards

Lead is a well-known toxin that causes significant harm to communities and workers.  Over the past five decades, regulations on lead exposure have evolved in an effort to keep the air, water, and soil at safe levels.

Recent changes in California’s regulation of lead exposure in the construction and in general industry have been in the works since 2011. In 2019 Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 35 revising CAL/OSHA lead exposure limit. The changes that were made in this bill are:

  1. Any time an employee’s blood lead levels are at or above 20 micrograms per deciliter, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) must report it to Cal/OSHA within 5 business days.
  2. These reports of lead exposure are subject to investigation within three working days.
  3. Any citations and penalties are made public annually.

More changes are on the way. Senate Bill 83 was signed to propose revision of lead standards to be consistent with scientific research and findings.  Businesses working with lead should keep an eye on this process as it heads to the OSHA Standards Board.

The current standard required by CAL/OSHA applies to certain sectors of construction such as demolition, removal of materials containing lead, work on structures that contain lead, installation of materials that contain lead, lead cleanup, transportation or disposal of materials containing lead, or maintenance on structures or materials containing lead.  CAL/OSHA actionable limit for employee exposure to airborne concentration of lead without a respirator is 30 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged over an 8-hour period time-weighted average.

If you are working in California in the construction industry, you will benefit from Cal/OSHA compliant Lead Safety trainings provided by Hard Hat Training.

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