Leave Lead Exposure Behind

This week’s OSHA tip is: Do not take home work clothes or shoes exposed to lead. Though many people know about the dangers of lead exposure and take precautions to prevent it, it may not occur to them that lead dust from one site can be carried to another—introducing the hazard to a second location.

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Don’t Bring Lead Home

Workers who are exposed to lead on the job can bring it home on their clothes, skin, and hair. Toxic lead dust can even be unwittingly deposited in their cars. These unconscious actions can have dire consequences. Children, other adults in the home, and pets can suffer the effects of lead exposure, which can be permanent.

The Effects of Lead Exposure

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no safe level of lead exposure, and prolonged exposure can have devastating effects, especially on children. Lead can harm the brain, kidneys, blood, and nervous system. Some early symptoms of exposure include:

  • Fatigue
  • Stomach upset
  • Poor appetite
  • Headache
  • Reproductive problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle and joint pain

Prolonged exposure can cause irreversible neurological issues and cognitive impairment. In children, exposure can result in behavioral problems and cognitive disabilities.

Lead poisoning can be difficult to identify because its symptoms may be easily mistaken for a variety of conditions. Though any level of exposure can have harmful effects, the good news is that exposure can be prevented.

Know the Take-Home Lead Risk

The first step in avoiding take-home lead is knowing what occupations and activities can expose you to lead dust. Common jobs and hobbies that carry a risk of lead exposure include:

  • Antique refinishing
  • Battery manufacturing
  • Bridge work
  • Building renovation
  • Ceramic work
  • Demolition
  • Fishing tackle manufacture
  • Metal production
  • Metal scrap cutting and recycling
  • Painting
  • Plumbing
  • Radiator repair
  • Soldering
  • Shooting range work

Start with On-Site Protection

Safety Equipment and PPEAdults who work with lead should take precautions to protect themselves from lead exposure. After all, if exposure is prevented, so is take-home lead. Employers are required to do the following to protect workers:

  • Test air for lead
  • Test blood lead levels
  • Inform employees if work involves lead
  • Provide lead safety training
  • Control lead dust and fumes
  • Supply safety equipment and PPE
  • Designate a space for hand washing and showers
  • Provide a place for changing into clean clothes

To ensure these measures keep you and your family safe, it’s essential that you take action to avoid transferring lead dust to at-home items. To prevent take-home lead exposure, you should:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Shower after working with lead
  • Change your clothes and shoes before going home
  • Avoid taking contaminated items home
  • Wash any exposed items separately

We Can Help You Leave Lead in the Dust

From PPE to lead safety training, we can help you prevent lead exposure at work and at home. Our OSHA-certified trainers and Safety Specialists offer in-depth knowledge and expert advice to keep you, your employees, and your family safe. Contact us today!