Turn to SESA Safety & Environmental Services for all your lead paint, lead fumes and lead dust inspection, assessment, testing and analysis requirements in Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong, Newcastle and other areas across NSW and ACT. At SESA, our occupational hygiene consultants and lead inspection team work hard to ensure that your workers and others in your workplace are safe from occupational lead hazads.
SESA occupational hygienists have been dealing for many years with all aspects of lead hazard identification, assessment and management including the following:
- Lead paint inspection, sampling, testing for lead content and lead exposure assessment in commercial, industrial and residential buildings.
- Lead dust inspection, dust sampling, testing and lead assessment in commercial, industrial and residential buildings including lead in ceiling dust.
- Air monitoring for lead dust and lead fumes for lead exposure assessment by inhalation in the workplace including lead processes such as lead battery manufacturing and metal manufacturing processes.
- Writing technical specifications/scope of works for removal of lead paint and lead dust contamination.
- Occupational hygiene project management of lead paint removal and lead dust removal works.
- Lead air monitoring and lead clearance testing during and on completion of removal of lead paint and lead dust.
- Exposure assessment of lead risk work
- Workplace Health and Safety Plans for the control of lead hazards.
Hazards of Lead Based Paint, Lead Dust and Lead Fumes
Lead metal poses health risks to building occupants, trade personnel and lead process employees and can be found in older commercial, industrial and residential buildings in the form of lead paint or lead based paint, coating products or in workplaces where lead processes are involved as lead dust and/or lead fumes. Lead poisoning affects virtually every system in the body including the central and peripheral nervous systems, kidneys and blood. Lead accumulates in a person's body throughout his or her lifetime and stored mostly in the bones.
Lead Paint or Lead Based Paint
Were used in many Australian residential and commercial buildings prior to 1970 and later years in industrial paint applications. Small amounts of dust or chips of paint containing lead, generated during minor building repairs, can be a health risk. Lead in paint can be a problem if it is damaged or disturbed. Paint in good condition that is not flaking or chalking, or is covered by well maintained lead free paint is not a hazard in itself. Lead can also be a hazard when it is on surfaces subject to friction or impact such as windows and doors, or on railings where children or pets can chew it. Residues from lead based paint can lead to high concentrations of lead in garden soils and floor surfaces in older properties.
Lead dust can be found in buildings which are not regularly cleaned at levels sometimes hazardous posing a risk to health. The source of lead dust includes:
- Settled or accumulated lead dust on surfaces and in ceiling space in older buildings in the vicinity of major road (source is leaded petrol) or in the vicinity of industrial operation that used lead
- Sanded or deteriorated lead based paint used in many residential and commercial dwellings built before 1970
- Sanded or deteriorated lead based protective coatings used on industrial buildings, plant and equipment
- Sanded or deteriorated lead based marine, automotive and vehicle paints
- Sanded or deteriorated specialised lead based paints, such as road marking and sign writing applications.
Lead Exposure Routes
Inhalation - Breathing in lead dust and lead fumes is the main way lead enters a body. Fine particles of lead can penetrate deep into the lungs and rapidly pass into the blood. Ingestion - Eating contaminated food and drink can occur if hands are not washed before meals and eating in workplaces where lead dust is present. Smokers can accidentally take in lead dust on their hands or cigarettes. Absorption through the skin or mucus membranes - can occur where lead fine particles, leaded petrol or lubricants are handled without gloves or barrier cream.
Lead Exposure - Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Control
Lead Sampling, Lead Testing, Lead Air Monitoring, Lead Assessment Identification of lead exposure hazard involves inspecting the workplace by an occupational hygienist and sampling and testing for lead on surfaces (surface swabs), in materials, and in air (lead air monitoring). Based on the lead test results, a risk assessment can then be undertaken to evaluate the potential exposure to lead through all three routes of exposure which may involve health surveillance (lead blood testing) to determine if the work is a lead-risk work where specific requirements become mandatory to comply with the occupational health and safety legislation.
Methods of controlling exposure to lead in the workplace include:
- Use alternatives to lead. Other products are available which are lead free or have less lead eg. lead free paint and PVC, tin or silver solder etc.
- Isolating lead hazards or lead processes is critical to reduce risk. Engineering solutions, such as ducted extraction, are highly effective in removing lead dust and lead fumes.
- Developing a safe system of work.
- Provide Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for any material containing lead
- Create a safe workplace. Many simple changes to plant, machinery, production processes, equipment and work practices can reduce the dangers of lead.
- Provide facilities and ensure that hands and face are washed before meals and smoking. This will help ensure lead dust is not accidentally ingested. Smoking or carrying cigarettes where lead dust is present is very hazardous. Employers must provide appropriate facilities.
- Change out work clothes when finished work for the day. This stops lead dust being taken home on bodies, clothes and cars and help protect workers' families.
- Use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. Respirators and face masks, overalls, gloves and other PPE.
For more information on lead hazards you may visit the Lead Group Incorporated and UnionSafe web pages. Legislative requirements and codes of practice can be accessed from SESA resource page.