It’s well-known that lead is harmful. Also well-known is lead’s usefulness as a component of industrial coatings because it holds up against the elements and helps prevent corrosion.

As infrastructure and assets age, it’s a matter of when, not if, workers encounter lead hazards. That’s why businesses, organizations and governments have worked together to put lead abatement procedures in place and develop lead-safe work practices.

Use these resources and information to help keep workers and the environment safe during lead abatement projects.

Assessing risk

One of the most important steps in lead abatement is identifying lead hazards in assets and determining what risks those hazards pose to workers, the general public and the environment. Risk assessments determine the location and severity of lead hazards on a painted surface as well as the environment surrounding it. 

Examples of hazards include lead dust formed when assets coated with lead-based paint experience constant friction, lead-based paint that’s become deteriorated on a contact surface and any surface painted with lead-based paint in close proximity to young children. 

Renovations and retrofits also pose risks because, while lead-based paints aren’t dangerous when they’re in good shape, they are hazardous once they’re disturbed. 

Risk assessments can be used to help managers build appropriate abatement plans and help with the search for the right contractor for the job.

Lead abatement procedures

There are four ways to mitigate lead hazards:

  • Replacing part of an asset coated in lead-based paint in exchange for a part that isn't
  • Encapsulating a part or surface covered in lead-based paint with a solid barrier
  • Enclosing a part or surface covered in lead-based paint so that it's not accessible
  • Removing the lead-based paint

It’s important to study lead hazards thoroughly to determine which lead abatement procedure is best. For example, replacing parts or surfaces covered in lead-based paint is the most permanent solution, but it’s also the most expensive and time-consuming. It might not make practical or economic sense to go to that expense if safe abatement can be achieved a different way. 

On the other hand, encapsulation and enclosure are the relatively faster, cheaper methods of lead abatement, but managers must be sure the enclosed or encapsulated hazards aren’t disturbed.

Lead-safe work practices

Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have rules to ensure workers are kept safe from lead hazards on the job. 

The EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Program sets standards employers must follow if their firms are working in residential, educational or childcare settings where lead hazards are present. The Agency provides a handbook for firms to learn whether they comply with the program. 

OSHA’s lead rules affect businesses working in general industry and maritime as well as construction settings. 

When it comes to lead-safe work practices, the Society of Protective Coatings (SSPC) administers the certifications contractors must maintain in order to comply with federal rules. 

At Thomas Industrial Coatings, safety is an integral part of company culture—more important than clients, equipment or profits. Our experts maintain the following lead-specific certifications:

  • SSPC C-3 Lead Supervisor
  • SSPC C-5 Lead Supervisor Refresher
  • MDH Lead Abatement Worker Licensing
  • MDH Lead Abatement Supervisor Licensing
  • OSHA Annual Lead Refresher

When you encounter a lead hazard, knowing what lead abatement procedures and lead-safe work practices are warranted goes a long way to solving the problem. Let Thomas Industrial Coatings handle the job. You can get more information about lead abatement by reading the asset owner's lead abatement handbook below.

 

Resources for safety in lead abatement
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