Yesterday Shawn McCadden and I attended a workshop presented by Mass. Depart. of Safety and OSHA at the U Mass. The presenters covered OSHA regulations that need to be considered in order to be compliant with RRP lead safe practices. It was very obvious that these agencies will be working closely with each other. Here are highlights from the workshop; (the post is long, yet contains important details about RRP and OSHA in Mass)
OSHA penalties will be increased; Mary Hoye Area Dir, US Dept of Labor/OSHA
The session started off with the new OSHA Penalty Structure. Minimum negotiated penalties will increase from an average of $1,000 to a minimum of $3-4,000.00. OSHA pointed out that the last increase was in 1990. The penalties for serious offenses are $7,000 and willful violations are $70,000. OSHA representative Ms. Hoye, discussed the new focus from headquarters. There is a concerted effort to make sure that workers are allowed to work in safe conditions. The penalties were increased to provide a greater incentive for companies to focus on worker safety. OSHA inspectors are instructed to stop at on going construction jobs to look for violations. Shawn McCadden asked "is the focus education based or penalty based?" and Ms. Hoye replied "penalty based."
Health Hazards of Lead; Training Specialist Jean Manoli, Mass DOL/DOS
Ms. Manoli explained the dangers of lead in renovations and its affects on the human body. She discussed the various programs that are provided for free to assist companies seeking to be compliant with OSHA regulations. For example OSHA has a free consultation service that includes air monitoring to detect levels of lead, OSHA 10 and respirator programs. These programs are funded by grants and are presented throughout the state.
Massachusetts Lead Registry
Presented by Rick Rabin from Mass Dept of Labor/DOS. He discussed how people who have lead poisoning are reported and tracked by the state. Employers must report employees who have high lead levels to the state.
OSHA Lead Standard in Construction; Jean Manoli
Ms. Manoli went through the long established OSHA regulations for lead work. This session described what contractors must do in order to be compliant when performing renovations where lead is present. She described the need for respirator programs, job site changing and washing stations, eating areas away from the work area, medical blood testing for employees, air monitoring measuring and devices, protective clothing, respirators, respirator fitting and medical evalutions to see if one is fit to work while wearing a respirator.
Work lead smart
She said the first approach contractors should utilize when working with lead is to use engineering controls to control the dust. These methods would include working wet, using hepa vacuums in unison with shrouds and covers, containment, careful removal of components, air controls and common sense. She said that even though the PEL (permissible exposure level) is 50 micro grams per cubic meter, the action level is 30 micro grams per cubic meter. Contractors must be able to prove they know that they are below these levels. Air monitoring will be necessary in order to prove this on a job site. If levels reach 50 or more full body protectionwill be mandatory. She explained that it is the employer's responsibility to pay for these items including training and equipment. It is also the employer's responsibilty to make sure that the protocol's are followed by employees. For example in order to wear a respirator no facial hair is allowed. Employees who don't want to comply cannot work.
EPA RRP Lead Rule; Ernest Kelley;Manager Licensing, Mass DOS
Ernie covered the details of the RRP Lead law and the new requirements for the Sate of Massachusetts. He discussed the current efforts underway between OSHA and DOS to produce the clearest wording in the law as possible. We could see that these two agencies are intent on helping one another including enforcement. He indicated that contractors will need to insure that they are compliant with both RRP and OSHA standards. He encouraged people with questions to contact his agency and they are there to assist.
He informed us that the state is enforcing right now and there are a few companies that are in the process of receiving fines due to the severity of the violations. I learned that men on these jobs are lead poisoned triggering small penalties.
He indicated that the current DOS position is to provide outreach and education, exclusive of fines. However, they are shutting down jobs and requiring that contractors obtain the necessary training right away. This may change very soon.
He said those who continue to forgo the required training, thinking that the DOS will not enforce, will be in for a surprise in the very near future. The DOS trained their inspectors on the RRP 8 hour course last week. We also learned that several OSHA inspectors were RRP trained as well.
Enforcement will be a joint OSHA/DOS effort
I asked if OSHA inspectors discover RRP violations on a job site will they report it to DOS? The answer was yes. I also asked DOS if they find OSHA violations on a RRP inspection will they call OSHA? The answer is yes.
This joint effort will increase the agencies' ability to enforce RRP and OSHA violations. I will write more about the details from this workshop in future posts.