Safety Rights for Key California Workers Could Be Tightened: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts

The latest safety move from regulators comes amid concerns over lead exposure.

An older construction worker mentors a younger worker on a construction site.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Labor laws are critical to ensuring fairness for workers, and they have an impact on the economy as they can impact output and employment trends. So our hugely-experienced Kiplinger Letter team will keep you abreast of the latest developments and forecasts in this sector (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). You will get all the latest news first by subscribing, but we will publish many of the forecasts a few days afterward online. Here’s the latest…

California labor regulators are seeking the nation’s toughest lead regulations. Under the proposed rules, the allowable amount of workplace airborne lead would decline by 80%, and workers would be more quickly reassigned to jobs with less lead exposure upon reaching a certain threshold. Employees who work with lead would also face more stringent blood-lead-level testing requirements.

Officials cite new research on the harms of lead exposure, which finds that blood lead levels as low as 5 micrograms per deciliter have been associated with impaired kidney and reproductive function, high blood pressure and more.

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The rules on the books now are designed to keep employee BLLs below 40 mpd and California regulators want to lower that threshold to less than 10 mpd.

Federal labor regulators are also working on new lead exposure rules. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration currently requires medical removal for workers with 60 micrograms of lead per deciliter in general industry, 50 mpd in construction. It’s unclear how low the feds will set their new standard.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to the Kiplinger Letter here. 

Matthew Housiaux
Reporter, The Kiplinger Letter
Housiaux covers the White House and state and local government for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in June 2016, he lived in Sioux Falls, SD, where he was the forum editor of Augustana University's student newspaper, the Mirror. He also contributed stories to the Borgen Project, a Seattle-based nonprofit focused on raising awareness of global poverty. He earned a B.A. in history and journalism from Augustana University.