The Michigan Occupation Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) recently made a significant revision to the state lead standard. The revision lowers the acceptable blood lead levels (BLL) for workers.
MIOSHA, which regulates workplace safety and health in the state, implemented a new rule requiring that employees be removed from lead exposure when their BLL reaches 30 µg/dL and may not return to work involving lead exposure until their BLL is below 15 µg/dL. The average BLL in the general population is 1.12 µg/dL.
The diagnosis and treatment of lead exposure is based on the blood lead level (BLL) measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dL). The old rule allowed workers to have BLLs of 50-60 µg/dL before the employee had to be removed from lead exposure. Under the old rule, which was based on scientific data that is nearly forty years old, an employee could return to work when their BLL was fell to below 40 µg/dL.
Specifically, the new rule requires:
An employer shall make available biological monitoring in the form of blood sampling and analysis for lead levels to each employee who or may be exposed to concentrations of lead greater than the action level for more than 30 days a year in accordance with the following schedule:
A. At least once every 6 months for each employee.
B. At least once every 2 months for each employee whose blood sample and analysis indicated a blood lead level at or above 15 micrograms (µg) per deciliter (dL). The 2-month frequency shall continue until 2 consecutive blood samples and analyses indicate a blood level below 15 µg/dL of whole blood.
C. At least monthly during the period of time an employee is removed from exposure to lead due to an elevated blood lead level.
Workplaces are usually the greatest source of lead exposure. Among the most common job tasks where exposure may occur are abrasive blasting of bridges or water towers; manufacturing or refurbishing batteries; demolition or remodeling activities; and working in a shooting range.
Prolonged exposure to lead can result in abdominal pain, depression, constipation, irritability and nausea. It also leads to higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, reduced fertility and high blood pressure.
CFR has a 30-year history of monitoring workplaces for employee exposure, including lead. Contact CFR to learn how we can help you comply with this new rule.