Working with lead can cause harm to your health. The Control of Lead at Work Regulations state that an employer must monitor all employees exposed to lead in the workplace.
In the workplace each employee must be protected from lead exposure by minimising the exposure as much as possible; this includes systems to control levels such as extractor fans, ensuring employees can wash hands and eat and drink in a safe environment, wear protective equipment if required, be trained in processes to minimise exposure and also potential health issues.
The employer has a legal duty to ensure employees working with lead are under medical surveillance by a doctor appointed by the HSE. Dr Heffer is a HSE appointed Doctor for Lead; the purpose of statutory medical surveillance is for the appointed doctor to monitor employees for early signs of potential health problems caused by the work they are doing and provide them with advice on whether further exposure to lead is appropriate.
Employees should have an initial medical assessment before starting work with lead or at least within 14 working days of that date. After this, there should be periodic medical assessments that consist of a clinical assessment at least once a year and measurement of blood lead concentrations – the frequency of blood lead tests will be at the discretion of the appointed doctor but the intervals between periodic medical assessments should not exceed 12 months.
There are different lead levels for women of childbearing age and young people under 18years of age. If a woman becomes pregnant, she should not work in areas of high lead exposure.
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