The Victorian Government is strengthening health and safety regulations to better protect workers who are exposed to lead. The regulations follow extensive consultation with businesses, and employer and employee groups, and represent an effort to reduce overall lead exposure in the workplace.
Under the changes, blood lead levels at which workers must be removed from their lead-risk work will be reduced from 50 μg/dL (micrograms per decilitre) to 30 μg/dL. For women of child-bearing age, the blood lead levels will be further reduced.
More workers in lead-risk industries will receive biological monitoring, while the amount of airborne lead dust particles permitted in a workplace will be reduced.
The changes will also lower the blood lead threshold for work defined as lead-risk from 30 μg/dL to 20 μg/dL and make sure workers removed because of lead-risk are healthy before returning to the job.
Finance Minister, Robin Scott, said the changes would help ensure health issues related to lead exposure are a thing of the past – and that “those workers who still work with lead are protected.”
Those who work with lead are commonly involved with vehicle radiator repairs, foundry processes, or the machine sanding or abrasive blasting of surfaces coated with lead paint.
Affected industries will have two years to prepare for the new measures from the time the improved regulations come into effect. Businesses are encouraged to adopt the changes early, and will receive transition assistance from WorkSafe Victoria.
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