Following the publicity around StirlingUniversitys recently-released research on working with lead, and Channel 4 News subsequent report, APHC is re-issuing advice and guidance to its members and the broader industry. The StirlingUniversity research, publicised by Channel 4 News last week, suggests that levels of lead in the bloodstream lower than the maximum permitted limit can still cause lead poisoning. The research suggests that over 100,000 people may be at risk of neurological problems, heart disease or even cancer as a result of working with lead.
HSE has withdrawn its advice leaflet for review. John Thompson, Technical Manager at APHC, says: "APHC welcomes any report that raises awareness of a substance that has risks associated with it; however we must now wait for the Health and Safety Executive to provide further information before a definitive position can be made on the health impacts of prolonged working with lead. We want all personnel and employers to be acutely aware of the dangers that lead can present and the absolute necessity for all relevant precautions and risk assessments to be undertaken.
We would remind everyone in the industry that it is good practice to work well within the permitted exposure levels at all times. "Good practice requires a risk assessment before any works begin, and where lead is involved there are strict procedures to follow, as laid down in an HSE Approved Code of Practice. Employers are responsible for their employees health and safety at all times and should ensure that risk assessments are completed properly, making appropriate equipment, including respiratory protection (RPE) available where required. Where staff discover lead they have a duty of care to themselves and those around them to ensure the correct procedures are invoked.
"Employers may also need to ensure that regular blood tests take place under medical supervision. Employees should be aware of the risks and should ensure that their hygiene is meticulous, especially washing procedures and no smoking or eating during the work with lead. "Like the rest of the industry, we await the results of the HSEs review of its guidance about working with lead before we can make any further comment or issue any further advice. See the HSEs advice at www.hse.gov.uk/lead or call the APHC Technical Helpline on 0121 711 5033.
Normally only open to members, the Technical Helpline is available to all in the industry for a limited time regarding this subject only."