Workers are potentially exposed to lead in many industries. Lead is used in the manufacture of products, such as batteries and plastics, and found in work processes, such as smelting and welding. Lead paint found in most older residences poses a health hazard not only for children who live in these homes but for workers removing the paint. Lead has also been used extensively on outdoor structures, such as bridges, placing bridge painters and other construction workers at risk of lead poisoning. Since 1991, clinical laboratories in Massachusetts have been required to report elevated blood lead levels (15 mg/dl or greater) in individuals age 15 or older to the Occupational Lead Poisoning Registry in the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development . Over 300 individuals with blood lead levels of 25 mg/dl or more were reported to the Occupational Lead Registry in 2001. The Registry staff conduct case follow-up to learn more about the sources of lead exposure and to provide workers and employers with information about lead poisoning and state and federal regulations regarding occupational lead exposure. DOS industrial hygienists may also conduct worksite visits to assess lead hazards and provide employers with specific recommendations for reducing lead exposures. OHSP works with DOS to analyze the Occupational Lead Registry state to identify industries and occupations in which workers are at risk of lead poisoning. This information is disseminated to industry, labor, the medical community, government agencies and others to promote prevention efforts.

OHSP also conducts follow-up of serious cases of work-related carbon monoxide poisoning, which are reportable to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

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Reporting Cases of Work-related Lead Poisoning

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This information is provided by the Occupational Health Surveillance Program within the Department of Public Health.