The toxic nature of lead is well documented and the adverse health effects that Lead Exposure can have are wide-ranging, including on the developing foetus and young children.
Lead affects all organs and these effects are directly related to the concentration of lead in the impacted organ systems. As this toxic metal has so many different applications and uses in all different types and locations of Australian Workplaces, setting a new standard for safe exposure levels is of great importance.
A review of the current toxicological information and overseas trends in the regulation of lead in the workplace was long overdue (last reviewed October 1994) with the current Australian regulatory thresholds higher than in many other countries in the world.
Safe Work Australia have now published a Decision Regulations Impact Statement (DRIS) on Managing risks associated with lead in the workplace: blood lead removal levels and workplace exposure standard. This document provides updated evidence and justification for the lowering of these thresholds of the current blood level removal levels (i.e. removal from lead process) and workplace exposure air standards for dusts/fumes of inorganic lead.
The decision to make these regulatory changes has the majority support of the relevant State/ Territory and Commonwealth ministers responsible for Work Health and Safety.
These changes will result in changes to the model WHS Regulations (specifically clauses 394, 407, 415 & 417) and it is anticipated similar changes will be adopted in non-harmonised states. A transition period of two (2) years has been recommended to give PCBU’s time to adapt their workplaces.
For more than three decades Greencap has been assisting clients with Lead Exposure Risk Management throughout Australia. Our Property Risk team have a wide range of experience within numerous lead-related industries, activities, workplace situations, building materials and remediation/redevelopment works. Likewise they are experienced in writing, reviewing and auditing Lead Risk Management Plans / Risk Assessments.
For more information on the above and other Greencap services please visit: www.greencap.com.au/services or contact us today to find out how Greencap is able to assist you with managing worker health and lead risks for your people and your business.
Click here for more information surrounding the Safe Work Australia Decision Regulation Impact Statement.
In summary the blood lead removal levels for males/females (not of reproductive capacity) will be reduced from 50µg/dL down to 30µg/dL and a “target” of 20µg/dL will been added. For ALL females (of reproductive capacity) it will be reduced from 20/15µg/dL down to 10µg/dL. The workplace lead in air exposure standard will be reduced from 0.15mg/m3 down to 0.05mg/m3.