Woking with lead: Vic gov to improve health and safety standards

The Victorian State government is strengthening health and safety regulations to better protect Victorians who work with lead.

According to a press release by the state government, Minister for Finance Robin Scott will introduce changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 to ensure Victoria’s safety standards for lead work reflect national best practice.

Scott said: “All Victorians deserve the right to be fit, safe and healthy at work. These changes will 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. I urge WorkSafe do all it can to encourage early adoption and assist businesses as they transition.”

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.

In Victoria, 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.

The proposed changes follow extensive consultation with businesses, and employer and employee groups.

Affected industries will have two years to prepare for the new measures from the time the improved regulations come into effect, with WorkSafe to encourage early adoption and provide transition assistance.