LEAD IN THE WORKPLACE
FAQs Employers & Employee
What do you want to know?
It is worth checking whether the building has been previously tested for lead paint, or has a lead register. Otherwise it is best to initially investigate by self-testing with a chemical test kit or collecting paint samples to test. If these are positive then it is best to investigate further with a more detailed survey, ideally with an XRF instrument that will give a good indication of the affected surfaces.
Checking for any lead containing materials should be an integral part of your risk assessment on any job.
The Control of Lead at Work 2002 (ClaW 2002) is the primary legislation in the UK which sets out responsibilities and limits of exposure to workers and to any others affected by building works. It should be considered in conjunction with the prevailing CDM regulations. However there are no specific regulations currently covering residential buildings when there are no works in progress.
ClaW 2002 outlines the Employer’s responsibilities to protect Workers. CDM regulations specify that for commercial works it is the Principal Designer, whilst for domestic works it is the Principal Contractor, both of whom must include an assessment of hazardous materials, including lead paint and special coatings, in the Health & Safety file.
The Regulations require employers to:
(a) make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health of employees created by the work to include whether the exposure of any employees to lead is liable to be significant;
(b) identify and implement the measures to prevent or adequately control that exposure; and
(c) record the significant findings of the assessment as soon as is practicable after the assessment is made.
If there is a significant risk to employees then you must provide training, PPE and implement a monitoring programme.
There is a duty of care for Employers to their employees and sub-contractors. The HSE are now being more proactive in their inspections and issuing large fines for breaches of regulations.
Regulations state that an initial medical assessment should always be carried out on all new employees employed in an activity liable to expose them to lead, and who have been exposed to lead at work in a previous job in the last three months. At risk employees should be checked periodically and all records keep for 20 years.
The symptoms of lead poisoning are non-specific and easy to confuse with other conditions:
Acute (sudden) Chronic (long term)