Health and Safety Resource

​August-September 2017

Getting unleaded: the dangers of lead

Greek poet and physician Nicander of Colophon isn’t a household name today, but his interest in poisons in the mid-second century B​.C. inspired him to write two poems on the subject: Theriaca and Alexipharmaca. These two poems also happen to be the oldest existing works available to us on substances that can make us sick or kill us.

Today, we know more about lead’s etiology than we did two millennia ago, but, like the ancient Romans, who were the first people to use lead widely, we have a history of thinking that exposure to small doses of the metal poses no harm.

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Administrator's Message

The true value of VPP is not recognition, but the example we can set

The Voluntary Protection Program's value as a recognition program depends upon our commitment to never growing the program at the expense of its commitment to excellence in safety and health.

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Did you know?

Oregon O​​SHA’s construction industry rule for controlling exposure to lead covers the following activities where your employees may be exposed to lead:​

  • Disturbing paint on structures built before 1978
  • Doing demolition and salvage work
  • Removing or encapsulating materials containing lead
  • Renovating structures that contain lead
  • Installing products that contain lead
  • Emergency cleanup of lead-contaminated materials
  • Transporting, storing, or disposing of lead-containing materials where construction work is performed
  • Doing maintenance work involving these activities

Who could be exposed?

  • Carpenters
  • Contractors
  • Demolition workers
  • Drywallers
  • Electricians
  • Handymen
  • Heating/air conditioning installers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Wallpaperers
  • Window replacement installers


  • Five lead mines in Missouri – plus lead-producing mines in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Washington –​ produce most of the primary lead in the U.S., according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
  • The U.S. is third in world lead production after Australia and China. Together with Peru, Canada, and Mexico, these six countries account for 82 percent of the world’s mine production.
  • In adults, about 94 percent of the total amount of lead in the body is contained in the bones and teeth. About 73 percent of the lead in children’s bodies is stored in their bones.
  • About 99 percent of the amount of lead taken into the body of an adult will leave in the waste within a couple of weeks, but only about 32 percent of the lead taken into the body of a child will leave in the waste.
  • Blood lead levels in the general population of the U.S. have been decreasing over the past three decades as regulations regarding lead paint, leaded fuels, and lead-containing plumbing materials have reduced exposure.


Every article I wrote in those days, every speech I made, is full of pleading for the recognition of lead poisoning as a real and serious medical problem.​”

~ Alice Hamilton, American physician, research scientist and author (1869 – 1970)

For more information about Oregon OSHA’s construction-industry rules for controlling lead hazards, read A quick guide to 1926.26, controlling exposure to lead

Childhood lead poisoning in Oregon

Serious cases of lead poisoning still appear in hospital emergency rooms, clinics, and physicians’ offices. In children, no developing organ is immune to the effects of lead poisoning.

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Oregon OSHA's key lead rules

The two main lead rules, and were violations occur in Oregon.

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Oregon SHARP Alliance

Improving workplace safety and health isn’t the kind of project you want to shoulder alone.

It’s an ongoing endeavor that calls for teamwork. Just ask the Oregon SHARP Alliance.

​It's an opportunity for companies to get together and meet likeminded companies and start sharing ideas.

~ Mark Hurliman, VPP/SHARP program manager for Oregon OSHA

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Don't Miss Out

Save the dates for these two conferences!

Central Oregon Occupational Safety & Health conference in Bend

Southern Oregon Occupational Safety & Health conference in Ashland

Upcoming education workshops in Wilsonville, Eughene, Klamath Falls, Medford, and Salem.

Get details

Safety Notes

Event: Electric shock, electrocution
Industry: Residential construction
Worker: Siding installers

Two workers were attempting to erect a 36-foot, seven-inch aluminum scaffold pole when the pole fell onto energized power lines.

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Going the distance

Company: Portland General Electric

Senior Safety Consultant: Gary Boswell

Responsibilities: As a senior safety consultant, I'm responsible for ensuring the different work groups at PGE are aware of changes in safety regulations, and I assist in scoping out the impact of any new regulations on our operations. I participate in Oregon OSHA advisory work groups and Edison Electric Institute (EEI) Safety and Health conferences. Because EEI focuses on federal safety rules, our work with them benefits PGE and the entire electric utility industry.

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Ask Technical

The person who takes the minutes at our safety committee meetings is responsible only for that task and has no other involvement in the committee. Is that person required to take accident investigation and hazard identification training that is required for the active members?

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