Is Lead Dead? A Look Back and a Look Forward at 20 Years of Bridge Painting Under the OSHA Lead in Construction Interim Final Rule and Other Related Standards
This article reports statistics on violations of 1926.62; summarizes findings on blood lead levels and current knowledge about the health risks lead exposure poses; reviews 1926.62 and related regulations affecting lead exposure; and offers observations, recommendations, and questions for owners and others involved with lead paint removal on bridges and other structures.
On May 4, 2013, OSHA’s standard for protecting construction workers from lead exposure (29 CFR 1926.62) celebrated its 20th anniversary. Initially titled, “Lead Standard: Interim Final Rule on Lead Exposure in Construction,” and now simply titled “Lead,” 1926.62 was issued because of what was known at the time about the health risks of overexposure to lead—risks such as neurological disorders and reproductive problems. Despite 20 years of training and education for 1926.62 as well as enforcement of it, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) statistical data from October 2011 through September 2012 for citations for the SIC code most commonly used for bridge painters, 1721, Painting/Paper Hanging, indicates that citations under 1926.62 remain the top regulatory finding for painting. Moreover, that finding mirrors the regulatory findings over the past 10 years.