Tuesday, 7th April 2015
Inside this Issue
- Lead in the workplace and what you need to do to keep safe
- Safety flaws at food business exposed at court
- A Birmingham shop fitting company is fined after worker’s ladder fall.
Welcome to our latest Update E-Newsletter
As ever, please feel free to share this with friends and colleagues. You will also find PDF versions of all our other newsletters on our website with lots more useful information and a wealth of leaflets covering Health and Safety topics.
Lead in the workplace and what you need to do to keep safe
Just before the Easter break, I was in discussions with a client and an architect about the risks of working with lead. We were also considering the potential risks to members of the public who may be in the area of the works.
So I thought it might be a good time to update the article I first ran in November 2011.
May I also ask you to please have a look around our new website and give us your thoughts. You will find a wealth of information up here and if there is something missing, please tell us.
May I say many thanks to Tim and his team at Somerset Web Services for a great job and taking time showing me how to update it myself.
As ever, if you have a subject that you would like us to cover one week, please contact us by phone 01458 253682 Email [email protected] or via our Facebook page or by Twitter
As stated earlier, I was in discussions regarding working with lead and the risks to the health of workers and members of the public that may be in the area.
So I thought it was time to once again highlight the hazards of working with lead.
This article is looking at:
• health problems that can occur if you absorb too much lead
• what your employer should do to protect your health
• Precautions you should take.
WARNING – IF YOU WORK WITH LEAD IT CAN AFFECT YOUR HEALTH.
When are you most at risk?
When you work in industrial processes which create lead dust, fume or vapour. These include:
• lead smelting, refining, alloying and casting
• lead-acid battery manufacture and breaking
• manufacturing lead compounds
• manufacturing leaded-glass
• manufacturing and using pigments, colours and ceramic glazes
• working with metallic lead and alloys containing lead, for example soldering
• some painting of buildings; some spray-painting of vehicles
• blast removal and burning of old lead paint
• stripping of old lead paint from doors, windows etc.
• hot cutting in demolition and dismantling operations and recovering lead from scrap and waste.
How does lead get into your body?
When lead and lead compounds are processed, worked or recovered from scrap or waste they can create lead dust, fume or vapour. Your body absorbs lead when you:
• breathe in lead dust, fume or vapour
• Swallow any lead, for example if you eat, drink or smoke, or bite your nails without washing your hands and face.
Lead is not absorbed through the skin – except in the form of lead alkyls (an additive to petrol) and lead naphthenate which are not covered in this leaflet.
So if you handle cold metallic lead you will not get lead poisoning.
Any lead that you absorb at work will circulate in your blood. Your body gets rid of a small amount of lead each time you go to the lavatory, but some will stay in your body, stored mainly in your bones. It can stay there for many years without making you ill.
How does lead affect your health?
If the level of lead in your body gets too high, it can cause:
- stomach pains
- loss of weight.
Continued uncontrolled exposure could cause far more serious symptoms such as:
- kidney damage
- nerve and brain damage.
These symptoms can also have causes other than lead exposure so they do not necessarily mean that lead poisoning has occurred.
A developing unborn child is at particular risk from exposure to lead, especially in the early weeks before a pregnancy becomes known. If you are a woman capable of having children you should take special care to follow good work practices and a high standard of personal hygiene.
What must your employer do to protect your health at work?
If you are exposed to lead, lead compounds, dust, fume or vapour at work, the law says that your employer must:assess the risks to your health from exposure to lead;
- decide whether or not your exposure is ‘significant’ (the law explains what this means), and what precautions are needed to protect your health
- put in place systems of work and controls, for example extraction ventilation equipment, to prevent or control your exposure to lead, and keep equipment in efficient working order
- provide washing and changing facilities, and places free from lead contamination where you can eat, drink and smoke
- tell you about the risks to your health from working with lead and the precautions you should take
- train you how to use any control measures and protective equipment.
Your supervisor or safety representative should tell you if your exposure to lead is ‘significant’. If it is, your employer will also have to:
- provide you with protective clothing
- measure the level of lead in the air you are exposed to, and tell you the results
- if your exposure to lead cannot be kept below a certain level – which is known as the occupational exposure limit – your employer must also issue you with respiratory protective equipment
- arrange to measure the level of lead in your body.
This is done by a doctor at your place of work. You must be told the results of your tests.
How is your health checked at work?
At your place of work a doctor or nurse takes a small blood sample to measure the amount of lead it contains. This is measured as a number in micrograms of lead for each decilitre (or 100 millilitres) of blood.
Serious ill-health problems rarely occur unless people have at least 100 micrograms of lead in one decilitre of their blood (this is usually written as 100 ). The doctor may also want to test a sample of your urine for the effects of lead. You are legally required to provide the blood or urine sample required for this purpose.
Normally, your blood-lead level will be checked every three months, especially if you are under 18 or a woman capable of having children. The doctor may decide to test it more often if you do the sort of work where you could rapidly absorb lead (for example work on lead burning processes where exposure to lead fume could be high unless properly controlled). If your exposure and your blood-lead level do not usually change very much, the doctor may check your blood-lead level less often, for example every 6 or even 12 months.
What happens if your blood-lead level is too high?
If the amount of lead in your blood reaches 50 – which is known as the action level – your employer must try to reduce it to below that level by:
- reviewing all control measures and checking that they are working properly
- making sure that you are following proper hygiene procedures
- consulting the doctor about any additional protective measures.
If, despite all the control measures, your blood-lead level reaches 60 – which is known as the suspension level – the doctor will repeat the test. (Lower action and suspension levels apply for some employees see the section entitled ‘Why are there lower levels for some employees?’) If this confirms the result of the first test, the doctor will usually decide that you should not carry on working with lead. There are some exceptions to this rule and the doctor will tell you about them. Your employer must act on the doctor’s decision, and you will not be able to work with lead again or be exposed to it until the doctor considers it safe for you to do so.
If your employer cannot offer you other suitable work where you will not be exposed to lead, you may be suspended from work. In these circumstances, you have the right to be paid by your employer for up to 26 weeks. If your employer refuses to do so, ask for advice from your supervisor or safety or trade union representative. You can apply to an industrial tribunal to enforce your entitlement to suspension pay. You can find out more from the grounds under health and safety regulations, which is free from any Job Centre.
Why are there lower levels for some employees?
There are lower action and suspension levels for women capable of having children and for young people under 18 as follows:
Category Action level Suspension level
- Women capable of 25 30 having children
- Young people under 40 50 18 (other than at (1))
If a woman is pregnant, the lead in her blood can pass into the blood of the baby she is carrying. This may affect its development. So, if you are pregnant it is important to keep the amount of lead in your blood as low as possible.
If you become pregnant, the doctor will automatically certify that you should not do work where your exposure to lead is significant. In the interests of your baby you should tell your employer as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.
It is against the law for women capable of having children, and for young people under 18, to work in lead smelting and refining and in most jobs in manufacturing lead-acid batteries.
What should you do to protect your own health?
- Make sure you have all the information and training you need to work safely with lead, including what to do
in an emergency, for example a sudden uncontrolled release of lead dust or fume.
- Make full use of all the control measures, systems of work and equipment provided by your employer and
follow instructions including those for using equipment.
- Follow good and well-tested work practices and especially:
- keep your immediate work area as clean and tidy as possible;
- clear up and get rid of any lead waste at the end of each day or shift as directed by your employer;
- Do not take home any protective clothing or protective footwear for washing or cleaning.
- Wear any necessary protective clothing and respiratory protective equipment and return it at the end of the shift/day to the proper place provided by your employer.
- Report any damaged or defective ventilation plant or protective equipment to your supervisor or safety representative.
- Eat, drink and smoke only in the areas provided by your employer that are free from lead contamination.
- Practise a high standard of personal hygiene and especially:
- wash your hands and face and scrub your nails before eating, drinking or smoking;
- Wash and/or shower and change if necessary before you go home.
- Keep your medical appointments with the doctor where you work.
How is medical information about you protected?
The Data Protection Act 1997 [updated 2003] protects information held on medical surveillance records. Your employer or the doctor where you work must tell you if a record is being kept on you and the reasons why. You have the right to see your record and to have any inaccurate information corrected. Your employer (or the doctor) should not reveal any information from your record except for the purposes for which it is kept.
OUR CDM2015 COURSES HAVE BEEN GIVEN APS VALIDATION!
The Wilkins Safety Group is pleased to be able to announce that our CDM2015 Awareness course has been scrutinised by James Ritchie and Andrew Leslie of The Association for Project Safety. Both are impressed with the course and have agreed to validate it.
Consequently this course is now an Accredited Course and any individual who successfully completes it may claim points towards membership of the Association for Project Safety. They will also receive an APS Certificate.
Our first two course dates are Sold Out!
Our first two courses at Taunton Racecourse on 27th and 30th April are SOLD OUT!
So we are now offering a third date.
This is Thursday 7th May again at Taunton Racecourse – See separate notice. But please note that there are only 15 places on this course and there are many people saying that they are wishing to attend. ONLY A FEW PLACES LEFT ON THIS COURSE
So, if you want to come you MUST BOOK NOW
We are also looking to run this course in the Bristol, Bath, Exeter areas as well as Dorset and further afield. Let us know if you would like it run in your area or “In House”
Other courses Coming soon!
As well as the CDM2015 course we have been asked about
• Fire Warden Courses,
• Health and Safety for SME Owners,
• First Aid Training,
• Construction Site Safety Awareness
So we are arranging dates for these and other courses, over the next few months
Remember Your Business is Safer in our Hands
If you have any questions about these courses or any other training or would like us to run a particular course for you, call Jon Wilkins of the Wilkins Safety Group on 01458 253682 or email him at [email protected]