03:50 pm, Tuesday 18 June, 2013
WorkSafe Victoria released guidance to provide information to workers about being exposed to lead in the workplace, how it can affect health and monitoring to make sure that lead blood levels are acceptable.
Lead is a poison and in certain forms can be easily absorbed into the body. When it is solid there is very little risk but when it is processed and lead dust, fumes or mist is created then it may be a health risk and precautions need to be taken.
Lead poisoning can be the result of being exposed to pure lead, alloys like solder or brass as well as inorganic lead compounds like lead oxide.
Are you working with lead? Lead is used in a number of different industries as well as processes like:
- lead smelting, refining, alloying and casting
- casting or machine grinding of lead alloys
- manufacturing dry lead compounds
- soldering with metallic lead and lead containing alloys
- ammunition and explosives manufacture
- manufacture or use of lead pigments or ceramic glazes
- pewter jewellery and badge making
- spray painting with lead-based paint
- dismantling of lead-acid batteries
- radiator repair if exposure to lead dust or fumes may occur
- removal of lead-based paint
Often lead is absorbed either by inhalation or ingestion. For instance lead particles may be ingested if hands contact lead for example touching clothing that is contaminated.
It is advisable to not eat, drink, chew gum or smoke where lead processes are carried out to reduce the risk of ingestion and always wash your hands immediately after working with lead.
It is the responsibility of an employer to provide workers with an eating and drinking area that is away from lead processes as much as is reasonably practical that will not be contaminated by lead. It is also the responsibility of employers to provide and maintain washing and changing areas that:
- minimise secondary lead exposure from contaminated clothing, and
- minimise ingestion of lead, and
- avoid the spread of lead contamination
If you are applying for a position that involves lead process the prospective employer needs to give you information regarding the health risks and the toxic effects of lead exposure as well as the details of medical examinations and biological monitoring.
For more details and to download the full guidance note see the WorkSafe Victoria website.