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WORKERS HOSPITALISED AFTER LEAD EXPOSURE

Failure to identify lead paint on renovation project causes health risk

 

HSE has issued a reminder to refurb clients and contractors of the dangers of exposure to lead paint in the workplace. It follows the prosecution of a Perthshire company after two workers were admitted to hospital with acute lead poisoning. 

The restoration company, Blairish Restorations Limited of Aberfeld, Scotland was fined £10k at the Perth Sheriff Court.

Failure to identify lead ended in exposure

The prosecution arose after the company failed to identify that lead paint was present during a renovation project on the Findynate Estate, Strathtay.

As a result, suitable precautions were not taken whilst the old paintwork was sanded down and removed. 

Workers inhaled and ingested lead dust over several months during the summer of 2008. The dust was also spread to the homes of the workers and potentially endangered their families, from dust on their overalls.

Lead risk still exists and vigilance is required

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Inspector, Gary Stimpson, commented:

“This case is important as it reminds primary contractors of their responsibility and duty of care to others working on the site – even if they are not directly employed by them.

Exposure to lead can result in significant and debilitating symptoms such as anaemia, nausea and constipation and even nerve, brain and/or kidney damage.

“There may be a view that lead is an historic problem, which was dealt with a long time ago. This prosecution shows that this is not the case.

“Those involved in renovating old buildings need to be particularly vigilant. Once dust or fume is generated from operations such as sanding, paint burning it easily enters the body through normal breathing or swallowing, where it accumulates causing debilitating symptoms.”

Precautions

The British Coatings Federation has published a Guide on repainting and removal of old lead surfaces. 

The guide is intended to ensure that the public and professional painters and decorators continue to be aware of the potential risks in homes, commercial properties and public buildings that are associated with exposure to old painted surfaces containing lead.

 

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