The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 places a duty on employers to protect their employees and non-employees to the effects of lead exposure. Excessive exposure can cause lead poisoning when it is taken in by the body.
Therefore, the lead must be in a form in which it is likely to be:
Symptoms of lead poisoning can include headaches, stomach pains and anaemia. Other serious symptoms include kidney damage, nerve/brain damage and infertility.
The regulations do not apply to work with materials or substances containing lead where, because of the nature of the work, lead cannot be inhaled, ingested or absorbed, e.g. handling finished pottery products which contain lead. They do apply to any type of work activity, e.g. handling, processing, repairing, maintenance, storage, disposal etc. which is liable to expose employees.
Employees must provide a suitable and sufficient assessment to identify the significant risks of exposure to lead and the steps that need to be taken to control the risks of exposure and record those findings as soon as possible after the assessment.
It is the employer’s duty to provide and maintain adequate records showing details of risk assessments, information and training, precautionary measures taken, medical surveillance, control measures and other personal protective equipment provided.
An initial medical assessment should be completed so soon as is practical before a person starts work where a significant hazard to lead exposure is evident. In any event not later than 14 working days after first exposure. Periodic employee medical assessments are required thereafter and records to be kept on personnel files.