Lead: Industrial Health and Safety

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of Luciana Berger Luciana Berger Shadow Minister (Public Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps the Government is taking to protect the health of painters and decorators at work in relation to lead paint.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

Protection of the health of painters and decorators at work in relation to lead based paint is achieved by restricting access to such paints and by limiting exposure.

The marketing and use of lead based paint is restricted in the UK by the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals Regulation (REACH). Under the current conditions of the REACH restriction, there is a derogation to allow for limited use of lead based paint in the restoration and maintenance of historic buildings and artwork. Those intending to use lead based paint must provide a declaration of the intended use to both the supplier and to the relevant competent authority before any work commences.

Further protection is afforded by the Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW) 2002. These Regulations apply to activities involved in the application of lead based paint in permitted circumstances as described above and also to refurbishment work such as maintenance of buildings, where the removal of lead based paint can create risks of exposure.

Under CLAW duty holders are required to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, including identifying whether lead based paint or other lead-containing material is present. Informed by that assessment, duty holders must identify, and implement adequate control measures to minimise the exposure of workers to inhalable lead particles and ensuring high standards of personal hygiene. If exposure to lead is likely to be significant, employers are also required to carry out air monitoring and medical surveillance of employees.

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