The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has estimated that around 838,000 construction workers and about 804,000 workers in general industry might be exposed to lead. This likely includes many Pennsylvania workers. OSHA has a minimum permissible level of lead exposure, and employers must also take certain steps to protect workers who are exposed to lead.
Employers are required to test both workers and the air for lead. Workers must be informed and trained if their job involves lead exposure, and they must also be provided with protective equipment. They need a place to wash and change clothes after finishing a shift, and there must be controls in the workplace for lead dust and fumes.
Lead poisoning is a cumulative process. One of its particular dangers is that there are often no symptoms of exposure, so people may suffer damage to their cognitive abilities, nervous system and kidneys before the exposure is discovered. Changing out of work clothes is one way of preventing workers from bringing lead into the home as well and increasing the exposure there. Some industries where lead exposure may be a danger include battery manufacturing, ceramic work, plumbing, renovation, painting and more. Workers may want to discuss the dangers of lead exposure with their employers.
If people contract a workplace illness because of their exposure to a hazardous substance on the job, they may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation benefits can be important to the support of employees and their family while they recuperate from an illness or if they are unable to work permanently. A worker who is concerned about struggling to prove a connection between a condition that has developed over a long period of time and workplace exposure might want to have the help of an attorney.