As lead is a toxic substance, it is important to monitor employee exposure in the workplace.
Lead work in Australia is considerably prevalent with the nation being the largest mine producer and exporter of lead in the Western world. Australia is responsible for about 25% of the world’s lead exports. The mining of lead ore is used to facilitate lead compounds, pure metals and alloys for the purpose of creating vehicle batteries, paint pigments and other materials. Workplace activities that expose people to lead include:
- Spray painting with paint containing lead
- Grinding, cutting, discing or buffing lead
- Handling components causing lead dust e.g. UV stabilisers and dry lead pigments
- Manufacturing lead-acid batteries
- Fire assay
- Radiation or vehicle exhaust repairs
- Cutting of lead-painted structural steel
- Casting or melting alloys
- Lead-paint removal
Exposure to lead that is either inhaled or ingested can result in lead poisoning, which, if left untreated, can cause nerve, brain and kidney damage and anaemia. To monitor your employees’ health throughout conducting lead work, KINNECT offer health monitoring inclusive of blood lead testing completed in accordance with Safe Work Australia guidelines.
Our lead health monitoring medicals are to be conducted before the worker begins lead risk work. If your employees have not undertaken this initial monitoring, it is important that it is conducted as soon as possible.
After the initial monitoring has taken place, biological monitoring (stand alone blood lead test) must be conducted based on whether the employee is a male/female not of reproductive capacity or a female of reproductive capacity. This differentiation is due to the ability for lead to remain in the system of a worker consequently affecting any potential pregnancies in the future.
Biological monitoring should be conducted as follows:
For females not of reproductive capacity and males
- Six months after the last biological monitoring if the last result showed a blood lead level of less than 30μg/dL or
- Three months after the last biological monitoring if the last result showed a blood lead level of 30ug/dL or more but less than 40μg/dL or
- Six weeks after the last biological monitoring if the last result showed a blood lead level of 40μg/dL or more
For females of reproductive capacity
- Three months after the last biological monitoring if the last result showed a blood lead level of less than 10μg/dL or
- Six weeks after the last biological monitoring if the last result showed a blood lead level of 10μg/dL or more