MASSACHUSETTS OCCUPATIONAL LEAD POISONING REGISTRY

In 1990 the Massachusetts Legislature passed the Occupational Lead Poisoning Registry Law (MGL, Chapter 200). Under the act and accompanying regulations, laboratories in the State are required to report elevated blood lead levels to the Department of Labor Standards. Laboratories are to report the name, birth date (or age), and blood lead level of adults with blood leads 15 mcg/dl or over. This requirement is for both laboratories that perform the blood lead test and those that send blood samples out of state for analysis.

The Registry was created because occupational exposure to lead is still a major cause of disease. Excessive exposure can cause serious damage to the blood, kidneys and nervous and reproductive systems. Occupational lead poisoning is still quite common in the U.S., despite the availability of effective control technologies and the existence of state and federal regulations designed to limit exposure.

Industries in which lead exposure may be a problem include, among others:

  • Lead Manufacturing                                                                      
  • Battery Manufacturing
  • Radiator Repair
  • Lead or Scrap Metal Smelting
  • Construction or Demolition
  • Lead Paint Removal
  • Pottery Manufacturing                     

PURPOSES OF THE REGISTRY

The Occupational Lead Poisoning Registry has a number of uses for workers, employers, and physicians:

  • inform workers about the hazards of lead and how exposures can be controlled;
  • provide employers with the information and technical assistance necessary to control lead exposure;
  • inform affected workers and employers about state and federal regulations regarding occupational lead exposure;
  • provide consultation and advice to health care providers concerning the medical management of lead poisoning and the medical monitoring requirements of the OSHA Lead Standard.

The Department of Public Health will regularly analyze the Lead Registry's data. Reports will be written periodically and distributed to interested parties. The Department of Labor Standards (DLS) will then be able to identify those industries, occupations, and workplaces that present the greatest lead hazard, and target them for follow-up. Data collection will also permit the study of trends in the incidence of lead poisoning over time.

HOW THE LEAD REGISTRY WORKS

1. Physician Interview

Upon receiving a blood lead report, the Registry contacts the physician who ordered the test to obtain further identifying information about the reported individual.

2. Worker Interview

The Registry then calls the worker to gather information about the lead exposure: whether the workplace was the source of exposure, whether other workers may be exposed to lead, whether they receive health and safety training and whether there is the potential for bringing home lead on contaminated clothing or skin. Information on the hazards of lead, protective measures and relevant state and federal regulations is then sent to the worker.

3. Workplace Investigation

If several workers have elevated blood leads at a single workplace, or if one worker has a particularly high lead level, an industrial hygienist of the Department of Labor Standards (DLS) will contact the employer to discuss the problem and/or schedule a worksite visit. During a site visit, the hygienist observes the lead-producing processes, and evaluates the lead exposures and the control measures that are in place to protect workers. The hygienist then writes a report with recommendations for reducing lead exposure.

4. Medical Consultation

When a worker's blood lead level is noticeably high, the Department of Public Health's medical consultant to the lead registry contacts the worker's physician. The consultant offers advice on medical management of lead poisoning and provides information on the medical monitoring requirements of the OSHA Lead Standard.

For further information about the Lead Registry, contact:
 

Department of Labor Standards
978-242-1353 or 508-977-1487