The past health controversies and medical findings regarding lead in products used by humans raise cautionary hackles on the back of the neck at the mere mention of the word. Society has nearly eliminated its use, from the gasoline we put in our cars and the paint we use to cover our walls. Exposure to lead in products we use every day continues to prove more dangerous than productive.
This is especially true for gun ranges. The bullets fired from guns contain large amounts of lead and lead-dust. The dangers of lead poisoning associated with paint, gasoline, and other products are the same as the lead from bullets and the dust created after firing a gun.
The general belief is that OSHA and other regulatory agencies will step forward and enforce the law to prevent injuries and even death to users of gun ranges. That is proving more difficult than imagined. The results of an investigation by the The Seattle Times concluded, “Federal OSHA officials can’t say how many gun ranges have been inspected nationwide, because they can’t track them. Ranges have registered themselves under such business categories as ‘all other amusement and recreational industries’, which include bowling alleys and soccer clubs, and sporting goods stores. One range claimed to be a shoe store, another a locksmith.”
The problem extends beyond OSHA’s inability to locate firing ranges. It also encompasses the failure to report violators and levy fines. Lax and discretionary enforcement by OSHA and other regulatory agencies is the cause. As The Seattle Times reported, “They rarely refer range owners to California-OSHA for enforcement. When they do, it’s for particularly egregious cases. Cal-OSHA inspected 19 commercial indoor shooting ranges from 2004 to 2013, and fined them nearly $70,000.” Despite California spearheading efforts to address lead poisoning from firing ranges, there remains a hesitancy among officials to report all violators.
So what is a possible solution?
The incidents of lead poisoning continue to increase as the number of people using firing ranges grows. Owners of firing ranges now know of the problem. Knowledge of the potential for lead poisoning equates to legal notice. Lawsuits against owners are on the rise. Under the Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), part of the Clean Water Act, courts and juries have been willing to award damages to plaintiffs, according to the Hazardous Waste Experts
As noted earlier, the problem of identifying firing ranges has proven difficult. Private firing ranges are the hardest to identify. Gun clubs are a key example. With the growing number of lawsuits has come a strange twist, enabling OSHA to better enforce the law. Filing a lawsuit brings possible violators out into the open, enabling OSHA to identify, mobilize, and inspect these ranges. Imposition of fines and other punitive measures can follow. For the owners of firing ranges, this serves to compound their problem. By employing competent, licensed contractors to keep the level of lead to OSHA standards, owners may avoid potentially devastating lawsuits and fines.
The Importance of Proper Indoor Firing Range Cleaning
Shooting sports popularity has grown significantly over the past several years and the indoor shooting range has become the venue of choice for many. As an indoor shooting range owner or manager, you have a particular set of potentially life-threatening issues to manage, over and above the obvious. Your responsibility is ensuring that you and your employees and customers have a safe environment.
Protecting employees in the workplace is OSHA’s responsibility and they have levied some very serious fines against shooting ranges, some so severe that they have caused the businesses to close. One of the latest (May 3, 2016) cited an indoor range in Lehigh Valley (PA). They have had $135,000 in fines levied against it for various alleged violations. Note that the facility has 15 days to comply, appeal or contest the OSHA findings.
Controlling Airborne Lead
- Controlling airborne lead exposure for both employees and patrons is a major responsibility of the indoor range. Lead, in its inert form, is basically harmless, but when airborne lead dust is ingested or inhaled it can cause serious, even fatal, health problems depending on the duration and severity of the exposure.
- Lead dust is created in two basic ways in the indoor range: during the firing of the weapon, the extreme heat from the explosion in the bullet casing vaporizes some of the lead from the rear of the bullet, and when the bullet hits the backstop. Depending on the design of the backstop, the bullet can splatter, releasing some airborne lead particles.
- Indoor ranges must have a written procedure for the removal and control of lead contaminants. Having a qualified and experienced lead removal contractor is a key component of this plan.
Performing your due diligence on hiring a qualified and experienced lead waste removal contractor is vital. You cannot afford to risk the safety and health of you, your employees and your customers. You want to be sure that your contractor is operating in full compliance with all removal guidelines and that they have a stable business.
The contractor that assumes responsibility for your cleanup and then goes bankrupt when OSHA hits them with fines is no help to you, they will leave you holding the bag. Choose your lead cleaning contractor carefully – it could end up costing you much more in the long run.
Over the past decade, MT2 has recycled over 10 MILLION tons of lead, returning over $4 Million dollars to ranges owners without a single regulatory violation, while working closely with range owners to implement firing range Best Management Practices (BMPs).
MT2’s proven record of firing range services include: complete range maintenance & improvements, lead remediation services, lead reclamation, OSHA & environmental consulting, operational maintenance and range closure. MT2’s zero-tolerance for regulatory violations gives range owners the peace of mind that their project will be successfully completed on a guaranteed schedule.
No one can complete a firing range lead reclamation project quicker and safer than MT2.