Safe Solutions

Lead exposure

Lead exposure is not as common in the roofing industry as it is in some other construction trades. During the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) 2006 fiscal year, employees from 15 construction industry categories, including roofing, were assessed a total of $158,000 in penalties for violating OSHA's lead standard (29 CFR 1926.62). The roofing industry was one of the least affected by penalties during that year. However, recent actions by OSHA ensure lead will be a topic of safety training and compliance efforts.

A necessary review

A notice in the Sept. 27 issue of the Federal Register states that after a recent regulatory review, OSHA will retain the construction industry standard governing lead exposure but attempt to improve outreach materials to help explain the lead standard to workers. Additionally, OSHA plans to clarify the initial assessment requirements under 29 CFR 1926.62(d) in an effort to reduce costs and simplify compliance for small businesses. OSHA also plans to work with other federal agencies to develop a unified training curriculum regarding lead exposures in construction.

The review's purpose was to determine whether OSHA's lead standard could be revised to reduce the burden on employers without reducing worker protection. The impetus for the review was public comments and data addressing blood lead levels and exposure levels among construction workers that became available after the original standard was finalized.