Lesson Learned Statement:Lead is one of several heavy metals that present a hazard to workers at DOE facilities. Frequent exposure to levels above permissible limits can result in a body burden that can cause long term health problems.
Jobs that have the potential for creating airborne materials must be carefully analyzed to ensure adequate respiratory protection is provided to the workers. In the case at Hanford the powder actuated tool was evaluated purely for its physical hazards. No one had considered the fumes from the ignition of the gunpowder as a potential source of exposure.
The other two cases resulted from inaccurate estimates of the levels of dust that would be generated.
Discussion:SUMMARY: Several cases of unplanned exposures to airborne lead have occurred within the DOE complex recently. Since lead in elevated levels can be found in unexpected sources, extraordinary measures may be required to prevent overexposure.
DETAILS: INCIDENT #1: At Hanford, construction workers were remodeling a portion of a building in the 300 area that was thought to contain lead based paint. The job required anchoring metal track material to the mating surface with a gun-powder actuated tool.
During the pre-job safety analysis, a section of the mating surface was suspected as being covered with lead based paint. Even though the potential for airborne lead was negligible, control and monitoring requirements were established. The installation of the track material was completed without incident.
Approximately 3 days later the monitoring results came back indicating exposure levels of 2 1/2 times the Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL). A very thorough investigation was conducted and the source of the lead exposure was determined to be from the gun powder used in the loads for the powder actuated tool.
INCIDENT #2: In December 1994, workers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory were steel-shot blasting the inside of a water tank using respiratory equipment approved by Industrial Hygiene and Safety. The airborne lead dust levels were much higher than anticipated and the dust was much finer than anticipated. Subsequent blood analysis showed that six workers had elevated levels of lead in their blood and one showed symptoms of lead exposure.
INCIDENT #3: Workers at Fernald were exposed to lead on 4/3/95 while cleaning the pistol range even though they were wearing the prescribed protective equipment. They were required to wear full face respirators with HEPA cartridges and liquid resistant contamination clothing. All openings were taped shut to prevent skin exposure. Based on the results of breathing zone air samples, exposures of 4147.0 and 76.8 micrograms per cubic meter were calculated to two workers. The OSHA PEL for lead is 50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter.
Originator:Westinghouse Hanford Co.
Validator:J. C. Bickford, (509)373-7664
Contact:John Bickford; (509)373-7664 [Telephone], (509)373-6120 [FAX]
Name Of Authorized Derivative Classifier:Terry Vail, (509)373-2092
Name Of Reviewing Official:J. C. Bickford, (509)373-7664
Priority Descriptor:Yellow / Caution
References:OH-FN-FERM-FEMP-1995-0051 KEH Lessons Learned Memorandum dated April 20, 1995 ALO-LA-LANL-PHYSTECH-1995-0004
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DOE Function / Work Categories:Occupational Safety & Health - General
Hazard:Personal Injury / Exposure - Hazardous Material (General)
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