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March 2023: Cal/OSHA Proposes Changes to Update Workplace Exposure to Lead Regulations

20 Mar

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Update Applicable to:
All employers with employees in general industry or construction.

What happened?
On March 3, 2023, the Cal/OSHA Standards Board published notice of proposed revised regulations pertaining to workplace exposure to lead for the general industry and construction safety orders.

What are the details?
In its Initial Statement of Reasons for the revisions, the Board indicates that the existing requirements are based on lead toxicity information and medical and epidemiological data that is now more than 40 years old and that more recent evidence demonstrates that low levels of lead exposure may have harmful health effects.

The proposed amendments to the regulations are designed to mitigate these harmful health issues from lower levels of exposure by maintaining employees’ blood lead levels below 10 µg/dl (micrograms per deciliter). In contrast, existing regulations were designed to maintain employees’ blood lead levels below 40 µg/dl, four times higher.

To achieve this reduction in exposure, the revisions would:

  • Reduce exposure to airborne lead.
  • Reduce exposure to lead through the oral route of exposures; and
  • Expand blood lead testing requirements for employees who work with lead, independent of measure levels of airborne lead.

The revisions lower the action levels under a time-weighted average for when protective measures are triggered. It also lowered the blood lead level requirement for when employees must be offered medical examinations and consultations at least annually. The revisions also lower the criteria for temporarily removing an employee from work with lead due to elevated blood lead levels.

The Standards Board anticipates the revisions will reduce the number of employees exposed to harmful amounts of lead.

The 45-day public comment period will remain open until April 20, 2023. On April 20, Cal/OSHA will hold a public hearing on the revisions.

Interested stakeholders, such as employers in the construction industry, may submit written comments.

For more information, please see the links below:

Proposed Notice

Initial Statement of Reasons

Article

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and should be on the lookout for any more news regarding this proposal. Vensure will continue to provide updates once more news has been received.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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