People who work in the mining industry reduce their risk of exposure to lead by following guidelines on the safe handling of lead provided by their employers.
But many other workers such as electricians, plumbers, tilers and builders are also at risk of causing harm — to themselves and their families — by disturbing lead dust in ceilings, behind walls and between and under floorboards. Maintenance and renovation work can also disturb existing lead paint.
Work activities such as crawling around in ceilings or demolition can cause lead dust to spread around the worksite. Lead can get on skin, hair and work clothes. Workers can then take this lead home on their clothes, boots and equipment such as tools or phones, putting their families at risk of lead harm.
By taking a few simple steps, anyone who has lead in their workplace can reduce their own and their family’s exposure to lead.
In the workplace
Wash and dry your hands before eating and drinking. Avoid smoking or chewing gum while working, as you could ingest or inhale lead from your hands. Eat regular meals and a healthy diet high in calcium, iron and vitamin C.
If you’re working where there may be lead dust, try to minimise the spread of airborne dust.
- Wet wipe areas and surfaces with a damp cloth.
- Seal the work area off using plastic and tape.
- Wear protective clothing including overalls, gloves and work boots.
- Wear an AS-1716 approved respirator or face mask fitted with P1 (dust) or P2 (dust or fumes).
- Make sure your truck has good seals and an air-conditioned cabin.
- Cover your truck load.
- Keep your vehicles windows closed as much as possible.
- Wash your work vehicle before taking it offsite or going home.
- Discourage family visits to worksites that are likely to contain lead.
There are simple things you can do to avoid bringing lead home from work on cars, clothes, bags and other work items.
Showering, washing hair and cleaning under fingernails before coming home from work will help to reduce the chance of exposing your family to lead. If you can, use washing facilities at work.
If you can’t change clothes or shower before leaving work, remove your work boots and dusty clothes before coming into the house. Keep your work gear separate from other clothing and wash it separately, to avoid spreading lead dust around.
Shower and wash your hair before playing with the kids. Don’t wear work clothes in the family vehicle after work. Keep baby equipment like child car seats out of your work vehicle.