FHWA Policy Memorandums - Office of Engineering

ACTION: Lead-Based Paint Removal       March 26, 1993
Worker Health and Safety Issues

Director, Office of Engineering       HNG-21

Regional Federal Highway Administrators
Division Administrators
Federal Lands HiqhwaY Program Administrator

Please refer to my memorandum of May 9, 1991 (copy attached) in which I addressed the health and safety issues concerning lead-based paint removal activities. At that time, I recommended that each division review its related State specifications; that States consider the use of pre-bid conferences; and that States which were still specifying the use of lead-based paint for maintenance and construction contracts consider nontoxic alternate coating systems. Since that time, there have been a series of related events that have taken place on the topic of worker health and safety issues related to lead-based paint. As a result, I believe that it is time to revisit the issues discussed in my May 9 memorandum which, together with more recent events, will have a direct impact on the Federal-aid highway program.

On March 3, Mr. Carlson testified on behalf of the Secretary of Transportation before the House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. The questions asked by the subcommittee members centered on FHWA's oversight role, technical assistance (i.e., available worker training), and enforcement role in applicable Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations governing lead abatement activities. The types of questions asked and other discussions during the hearing clearly indicated that the subcommittee believes FHWA should take a more proactive role in dealing with these issues.

On October 28, 1992, former President Bush signed the "Housing and Community Development Act of 1992," Public law 102-550. Section 1021 of the law requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, promulgate regulations governing lead-based paint activities to ensure thatcontractor personnel engaged in lead-based paint abatement activities are properly trained, that training programs are accredited, and that contractors engaged in such activities are certified. This new law applies to highway construction projects and, therefore, will impact the Federal-aid program in the near future.

The EPA regulations are to be issued by April 1994 and will contain specific requirements for training programs for workers, supervisors, inspectors, and any others who may be involved in lead-based paint activities. The final

regulations are to provide minimum requirements for accreditation of training providers, training curriculum, training hours, hands-on training, trainee competency and proficiency criteria, and training program quality control. We will provide additional information on these training requirements as it becomes available.

The Structural Steel Painting Council (SSPC) sponsors a training and certification program. The SSPC is currently working on expanding its efforts to include training with the emphasis on worker health and safety. Currently, several States require this SSPC certification as a prerequisite for bidding on bridge painting contracts. This may be one way of ensuring competent contractors are awarded contracts. We suggest that States evaluate training programs currently available from SSPC and other industry sources to determine if these Programs meet their needs.

In addition to the training requirements, Subtitle C entitled, "Worker Protection" of Public Law 102-550 requires the Secretary of Labor to issue interim final regulations governing occupational exposure to lead in the construction industry. We anticipate that the interim regulation will be published in the April 26, 1993, Federal Reqister. The interim final rule will have the legal effect of an OSHA standard and will be in force until a fina1 standard becomes effective.

I am attaching a reprint of an article which appeared in the April 1991 issue of the "Journal of Protective Coatings and Linings." Although somewhat dated, the article still provides an excellent overview of recommended practices that can be used by employers to protect their workers. The article references several OSHA regulations including 29 CFR 1910.1025 known as the "General Industry Standard (GIS) for Lead." Although the GIS is not applicable to the construction industry, it does contain many comprehensive requirements for worker protection programs. It is very likely that the new OSHA regulation will incorporate many of these requirements.

Each State highway agency (SHA) should contact the local EPA office or State environmental agency to ensure a coordinated effort that integrates all applicable requirements of the existing laws and regulations intospecifications for their construction and maintenance programs. In addition, each SHA should be aware of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Alert Publication entitled, "Preventing Lead Poisoning in Construction Workers" published in August 1991 (copy attached). This document is available to all employers for the purpose of assisting them in protecting their workers. It is considered an excellent information resource, and we recommend that States obtain copies.

In a related activity, the AASHTO Bridge Subcommittee's Technical Committee for Steel Design is currently working on a guide for painting structural steel. The guide will cover all technical aspects of removing and replacing existing paint systems and will also address worker health and safety requirements. This document is expected to be circulated later this spring to all State bridge engineers for their review. We anticipate the guide will be formally adopted by AASHTO in 1994.

In light of currently available studies that cite the hazards of lead-based paint upon the environment and its effects on workers, the following shall apply to all Federal-aid projects authorized after June 1, 1993.

  1. The use of lead-based paints either as a participating or non participating item shall not be allowed in any proposed project.

  2. States shall conduct pre-bid conferences for all projects which involve the removal of lead-based paint systems in order to assure that all potential bidders are informed of the hazards and requirements for worker protection. We suggest that appropriate State aqencies also participate in the conferences.

All questions regarding this matter should be directed to Mr. Joseph Huerta, Construction and Maintenance Division at (202) 366-1556.

Thomas 0. Willett


FHWA Home | Directives | Policy Memos | Feedback
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration