Lead Poisoning: Lead can cause serious health problems in adults as well as in children. Workers in a number of Massachusetts workplaces and industries continue to be exposed to dangerous levels of lead. In 2010, workers aged 15 years or older with high blood lead levels (greater than or equal to 25 μg/dl) were reported to the Massachusetts Occupational Lead Poisoning Registry. Many more may be affected but are never tested despite OSHA regulations that may require such testing, particularly workers in small businesses such as house painters. The majority of Massachusetts workers with high lead levels work in construction (primarily house painters and de-leaders). Latino workers are at high risk for occupational lead poisoning, and immigrant workers continue to be at increased risk as well.
New EPA legislation may improve protection for children in residences with lead and the workers who do renovation or other construction on those homes. EPA, with enforcement by the Division of Occupational Safety, requires persons whose work disturbs paint in pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities be licensed by the state, receive accredited training and certification, and comply with certain work practice requirements. Employers affected by the legislation include residential rental property owners/managers, general contractors, painters, plumbers, carpenters, and electricians. Information on how to comply with the Lead, Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule can be found at: www.mass.gov.
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