While Game of Thrones has now ended and it showed how harmful a grumpy girl on a dragon can be, lead is a far bigger concern for us mere mortals. While we know lead is a hazardous substance, it is still not uncommon for organisations to struggle to understand what defines lead-risk work and how to manage this risk.
Our advice has generally been that if any of your team members work in contact with lead or products containing lead (even if it’s a model dragon like the picture), they’re quite likely working in a lead-risk job unless you can prove otherwise. If the contact is minimal and you’ve got no data confirming their blood is lead free, you’ll likely be hard pressed to justify not treating them like they could currently be or may become exposed. If lead contact is incidental and you’ve got a system in place that shows workers have no lead in their blood over the range of work situations, it’s possible you may have the hazard effectively managed. Obviously each situation is unique so this blog post isn’t to be taken as advice from Dr Google – we’d need to dig a little deeper to do that!
There is further detail in the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 (WA), but one update recently has been the reduction in the threshold of levels found in the blood before escalated actions are needed for the protection of the health of the worker. Having worked in industries for a number of years where I lived with a baseline blood lead level in a range now deemed unacceptable, I cannot express enough the need to work hard at managing lead exposure at the source. It takes time to drop after it’s discovered in one of your workers, and for cost reasons if nothing else, it’s quite an expensive exercise while you’re waiting for them to come down. That goes without saying, the impact on being TOLD by Worksafe to fix certain things in the workplace is likely greater than doing them under your own direction at your own pace.
If you wish to chat to us for further clarification or ideas on translating this section of the legislation into human speak, give us a call or drop us message on the Contact Us tab of the website.
Or just click on the link below to their website to see the Worksafe publication on the topic.