Lead compounds used to be used in products such as paint and for covering purposes.
There may be a risk of effects harmful to health when carrying out renovation and demolition involving lead and materials containing lead, e.g. when removing enclosures or carrying out demolition work. This is particularly true when scraping off, burning off and cutting materials covered in paint containing lead.
If you are exposed to lead for any length of time, you may suffer damage to e.g. the nervous system, brain, kidneys and gastrointestinal tract. Lead may impair the ability of both men and women to have children and cause damage to the unborn child. Some lead compounds are also carcinogenic.
Minors under 18 and pregnant and breastfeeding women must not work in areas where there is a risk of exposure to lead. Working with lead and materials containing lead is considered to be particularly hazardous work.
The employer must carry out checks of the lead content in the blood of all affected employees if employees are exposed to lead. Blood samples must be taken when work commences or within 15 days of work commencing, and again every six months. These blood samples must indicate whether the arrangements are working and whether sufficient personal hygiene is being observed. If the blood samples show an elevated level of lead, the arrangements and personal hygiene must be reassessed. If the blood samples are over the limit, the employee in question must undergo a health check promptly.
The employer must instigate and pay for analyses of the amount of lead in the blood involving – for example – a private authorised working environment advisor or a private clinic/hospital which deals with this kind of work. Doctors in private practice do not generally undertake or provide referrals for analyses of this type.
On building sites and at alternating places of work, dust measurements can primarily be used to ensure that final cleaning has been sufficiently thorough. If the measurement shows that there is no lead present, the work site can be transferred to the next element of the construction project.
It is important to maintain good personal hygiene when working with lead as this can be easily transferred from the hands to the mouth when eating or smoking. It is therefore very important to wash your hands, lower arms and face thoroughly before drinking, eating or smoking. In the case of very dusty work involving lead, you must have a bath before breaks, and always at the end of the working day.
Planning and preparation
The general workplace assessment (APV) must be supplemented with a separate description of how to handle lead on the building site. This special assessment may be a work plan which describes in detail how to handle lead safely and correctly.
The building site’s health and safety plan (PSS) must also indicate where lead is present.
This work must be planned so that the spread of lead is prevented. If the work involves a lot of dust, it may be necessary to provide access to the work site via a sluice. Depending on the layout of the building site, it may be necessary to position washing and bathing facilities so that they are immediately accessible from the work site.
When leaving the work site, it is important for you to ensure that you will not contaminate the rest of the building site with lead. Therefore, it may be necessary to clean tools, mobile phones and similar before removing them from the work site. Regular cleaning of the work site may be necessary in the case of particularly dusty work.
Depending on the nature of the work, it may be necessary for you to use personal protective equipment. This may include gloves, dustproof overalls, protective goggles and respiratory protection (at least a half mask with a P2 filter). Remember that you must not be wearing dirty protective equipment when you leave the work site. Access to the work site must be limited, and signs indicating the presence of lead must be put up.
In the event of effective arrangements, it is necessary to prevent lead dust or vapours containing lead from being given off. If there is lead dust, it is necessary to remove this by means of extraction from the location where it is given off. Employees must, where necessary, use suitable respiratory protection and dust-repellent workwear. If there is a risk of contact with the skin, employees must use personal protective equipment such as gloves and workwear. It is necessary to keep such workwear separate from everyday clothes.
Personal protective equipment, including workwear, must not be taken home. If it has to be washed, this must take place at the work site or at a laundrette with special equipment for the purpose. The clothing must be transported in closed containers.
Welfare and health measures
There must be access to bathrooms with washbasins and showers with hot and cold water next to changing rooms. There must be two lockers per person so that workwear and private clothing can be kept separate.
There must also be access to canteens which must not be used for work purposes. It is necessary to ensure that canteens are not contaminated with lead, and so dirty protective equipment must not be taken into such areas. Therefore, eating, drinking or smoking at the work site and storing drinks, food and tobacco products at the work site are not permitted.
Work sites, changing rooms, bathrooms and canteens must be cleaned effectively at regular intervals. Remember to instruct the personnel who will be cleaning these facilities.
Waste containing lead must be collected and stored securely on the building site until it can be disposed of in closed containers or similar. Such waste is disposed of in accordance with the instructions of the municipality.