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We now know that lead exposure can damage the cardiovascular and central nervous systems and can be harmful in children’s development. So why does the toxic metal continue to be used in a variety of products? More to the point, what are some ways to help protect people and the environment from exposure?

The element's resistance to weathering and corrosion have been well known for centuries. The English word "plumbing" stems from the widespread use of the element known in Latin as "plumbum" (more widely known today by the chemical symbol "Pb") in pipes.

It's known that work such as sanding, cutting and demolition can produce hazardous chips and dust by disturbing lead-based paint. Yet, lead continues to be used in yellow highway paints, in paint primers for steel bridges and in the shipbuilding industry.

Prior to the 1960s (and up through the late 1970s), paint used in homes was most often lead based. Lead oxide was used as a pigment, while lead naphthenate was used in small concentrations due to its anti-bacterial and anti-mold properties.
In the 1990s, the EPA established lead-based paint regulations after it was determined that millions of people had been exposed to lead poisoning from paint peeling from walls. The most common ways for lead to enter the body are through inhaling it as a dust or fume or ingesting it accidentally. Once inside, lead can circulate and be deposited throughout the body, making it a cumulative and persistent toxic substance.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulates many aspects of lead exposure in the residential environment. Young children are especially vulnerable since they tend to place things into their mouth. More information can be found at:

What it all boils down to is the fact that as materials that contain lead age, exposure will continue to be a human and environmental health concern. For that reason, lead abatement means that lead-containing materials and structures need to stay in good repair and that any work to them or their surroundings should be planned carefully.

Important initial steps in mitigating the health risks from lead hazards are to identify its presence and to determine exposure risks to people and to the environment.

Mitigating lead hazards can be achieved in four basic ways:
-Replacing part of an asset coated in lead-based paint with a part that is not.
-Enclosing a part or surface covered in lead-based paint with a solid barrier.
-Encapsulating a part or surface covered in lead-based paint to make it inaccessible
-Removing the lead-based paint.

Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have established rules to keep employees safe from lead hazards at work.

OSHA in 1978 established a separate standard addressing Occupational Exposure to Lead (29 CFR 1910.1025) that includes a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for employees who work in general and maritime industries. The OSHA General Industry Standard sets 50 micrograms per cubic meter as the 8-hour time-weighted average concentration of lead in air. This is the maximum concentration to which a worker can be exposed, on a daily basis, over a working lifetime to prevent material impairment of his/her health or functional capacity. The standard also includes an action level of 30 micrograms per cubic meter, which triggers requirements for employers with regard to monitoring lead levels and providing for medical evaluation and treatment for employees if various thresholds are exceeded. A separate standard that applies to the construction industry (29 CFR 1926.62) was published in 1995 and specified the same PEL and action level.

In effect since 2010, the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Program sets standards for employers if their employees' work involves disturbing paint in residential, educational, or child care settings built before 1978, when the use of lead-based paint in such buildings was banned. According to those rules, workers must be trained and certified in lead-safe work practices.

The agency publishes a handbook (available at for businesses to determine whether the program applies to them.

There are two methods the EPA recognizes for testing paint: X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis and paint chip sampling with an analysis by an accredited laboratory. At Workplace Safety & Health Co., in addition to using these test methods, we also use AutoCAD™ drawings and photographs in our survey reports to show the location and appearance of each surface coating we analyze. So before starting in on that next renovation or construction project that you suspect might lead to exposure to lead, call us first and be sure -- and safe.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has launched an initiative to focus on the hazards miners face when working in isolation. The initiative comes after five miners died in lone worker situations during the first three quarter of 2017.

MSHA inspectors and training specialists will now talk to miners and mine operators in "walk and talks" during regular inspection visits according to an agency news release.

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Tagged in: mine safety MSHA

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Each day an average of 2,000 workers in the United States suffers job-related eye injuries requiring medical treatment. That’s according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH),

Approximately three out of every five workers who experienced eye injuries were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were not wearing the proper kind of eye protection for the task. That’s according to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The BLS also reported that in 2014 there were 23,730 eye injuries requiring time away from work that year, accounting for 6 percent of the total of all lost-time cases in both private industry and state and local government.

What we don’t need these statistics to tell us is that eye injuries can be life-changing. Their effects can range from simple eye strain to severe trauma that result in permanent damage or loss of vision. Blunt trauma can damage the eye directly or even the bones that surround it.

According to OSHA, thousands of workers are blinded each year from occupational injuries that could have been prevented through properly selected and fitted vision protection. Such personal protective equipment which must be worn by employees who are exposed to hazardous chemical splash, dust, and particulate matter.

OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (1) states that it is the responsibility of the employer to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.” That includes making sure the PPE uses eye protection that provides side protection when there is a hazard from flying objects (OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a) (2). For those who wear prescription lenses, OSHA Face Protection Standard 1910.133(a)(3) requires that each affected employee “engaged in operations that involve eye hazards wears eye protection that incorporates the prescription in its design, or wears eye protection that can be worn over the prescription lenses without disturbing the proper position of the prescription lenses or the protective lenses.”

Common forms of PPE for the face and eyes safety glasses, goggles, face shields, and full face respirators. However, PPE selection depends upon the type of hazard, the circumstances of exposure, the type of other PPE to be used, and an individual’s vision needs.

OSHA standards recommend that a person should always wear properly fitted eye protective gear when:
-Doing work that may produce particles, slivers, or dust from materials like wood, metal, plastic, cement, and drywall;
-Hammering, sanding, grinding, or doing masonry work;
-Working with power tools;
-Working with chemicals, including common household chemicals like ammonia, oven cleaners, and bleach;
-Using a lawnmower, riding mower, or other motorized gardening devices like string trimmers;
-Working with wet or powdered cement;
-Welding (which requires extra protection like a welding mask or helmet from sparks and UV radiation);
-“Jumping” the battery of a motor vehicle;
-Being a bystander to any of the above situations.

OSHA notes that ensuring PPE fits an employee properly is essential to effectively protecting that person; this is particularly true with eye protection. Without a good fit, protective eyewear is likely to be uncomfortable, to slip, and possibly to be damaged or even discarded. Again, we don’t need statistics to tell us that the consequences of even brief lapses in protection can be severe.

OSHA's Eye and Face Protection eTool (available at offers a basic hazard assessment table to help employers begin the process of selecting proper PPE. The table lists five types of vision hazard that might be encountered at work – impact, heat, chemicals, dust, and optical radiation — and offers examples and common tasks related to each.

One final note: OSHA urges employers not to rely on PPE devices alone to protect hazards. Instead, personal protective gear should be a part of a safety environment that includes engineering controls and robust safety practices.


The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) recently released an updated version of its Personal Fall Protection Equipment Use and Selection Guide. The guide provides guidance for fall protection users and administrators in selecting, using, maintaining and inspecting fall protection equipment.

The document is prepared by manufacturers in the ISEA Fall Protection Group and describes the process of developing a corporate fall protection program, explains the components of fall protection systems, provides examples of how to select equipment for various types of work, and outlines steps for planning the use of fall protection systems. The guide also contains inspection and maintenance guidelines, definitions, a list of applicable OSHA regulations and U.S. and Canadian consensus standards, and links to ISEA companies and other sources of information.

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Tagged in: fall protection ISEA

The month of June comes packaged with a number of themes, and one of them, National Safety Month, aims to cuts down on the chances that of one of those others isn’t tragedy.

National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and fatality at work, on the road, in the home and in communities. This year, the month’s special focus areas are ergonomics, preventing falls, preventing fatigue, and preparing for active shooters.

Whether or not your organization chooses to participate in the weekly learning themes offered by the National Safety Council (available at, June is a good time to look for ways to improve safety at the workplace, whether the environment is indoors, outdoors or both.

At Workplace Safety & Health Company, we are committed to helping to make workplaces safer the whole year round. Our specialized consulting services are based upon the specific needs of each client, and we stand ready to assist with industrial hygiene, confined space hazard, and qualitative exposure assessments, job safety analyses, confined space evaluations, indoor air monitoring, vapor intrusion monitoring, lockout/tagout surveys or industrial noise monitoring and mapping. Our goal is to help our customers prevent injuries and illnesses and to promote profitability by means of robust health and safety management practices.

Some of the training courses we offer include:

-Complying with OSHA 30-hour/10-hour courses
-Confined Space Entry and Rescue
-First Aid /CPR (to include AED and Bloodborne Pathogens)
-Asbestos Operations and Maintenance
-Incident Command
-Excavation Safety
-Fall Protection

Whatever your workplace safety concern, contact us – we’re here to help year round.


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