The list of hazardous materials and substances that construction laborers may come in contact with on the job is very extensive, and the potential health effects range from minor skin irritation to serious chronic health conditions or even death due to acute or long-term exposure.
Chemicals and substances can affect the body via inhalation, ingestion or skin absorption (e.g., silica, lead, asbestos, solvents, etc.). Health hazards may come from materials used on site or those already present in the environment.
OSHA sets permissible exposure limits (PELs) for many individual chemicals and substances that are known to be hazardous, but many of these PELs are outdated and do not adequately protect the safety and health of workers. The Fund’s OSH Division helps LIUNA signatory contractors implement the hierarchy of controls to eliminate or substitute hazardous materials when possible, then implement engineering and work practice controls to further reduce exposures. Personal protective equipment, such as respirators, should be used only when these methods are not enough to reduce exposures to safe levels.