Lead at work: Legal duties

Part 4.3 of the OHS Regulations 2017 imposes specific legal responsibilities on employers and employees at workplaces where a lead process is carried out.


Employer duties

Employers have a duty to provide job applicants who apply to work in a lead process with information about the health risks and toxic effects associated with lead exposure, as well as the need for and details of required medical examinations and biological monitoring.

Employers must also eliminate any risk associated with exposure to lead, so far as is reasonably practicable. If elimination is not reasonably practicable, employers must reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable, by:

  • identifying whether a lead process is 'lead-risk work'
  • using the hierarchy of control to ensure any risks associated with exposure to lead are controlled so far as reasonably practicable
  • reviewing risk control measures
  • keeping the lead process area clean
  • providing washing and changing facilities
  • providing an appropriate eating and drinking area that cannot be contaminated with lead from any lead process
  • providing for the laundering or disposal of protective clothing and work clothing that is likely to be contaminated with lead dust
  • arranging medical examinations and biological monitoring as required
  • providing supervision, instruction, information and training to enable employees to work safely with lead

Employee duties

Employees have a general duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety, and that of others who may be affected by their work. They also have a duty to cooperate with their employer’s efforts to make the workplace safe.

Employees also have specific duties at workplaces where lead processes are carried out. They must:

  • not eat, drink, chew gum or smoke in a lead process area
  • not carry food, drink, gum or materials used for smoking in any area where lead processes are being undertaken
  • remove any lead contaminated clothing and equipment they have used, before entering an area for eating and drinking
  • wash their hands and face after leaving a lead process area before eating, drinking or smoking

An employee's exposure to lead can be further minimised by using the control measures their employer provides, such as:

  • wearing personal protective clothing (such as a respirator and dust-coat) when required
  • storing food, drink, chewing gum and tobacco away from the lead process area
  • washing and changing into clean clothing before going home
  • attending all scheduled medical appointments

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