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The Safety Brief In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews
and insights into how contractors and safety managers
can be even more effective in protecting their workers.
In our podcasts we give short but valuable overviews and insights into how contractors and safety managers can be even more effective in protecting their workers.

Lead Hazards

Lead hazards are still here, even though leaded paint and gasoline were phased out years ago. Listen for current lead hazards, and how to avoid them.

In this podcast, Dan Clark tells of the lead hazards in many jobs, including battery manufacturing, old building demolition, radiator work, and even at shooting ranges.

Dan describes what employers and workers can do to outwit the heavy metal and stay safe.


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Lead_Hazards-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x167Dan Clark: If the building where you work was built before 1978, you may have old lead paint on your walls and doors. But that’s not the only potential lead hazard in the workplace.

Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

You may think lead hazards are a thing of the past, since lead has been banned in things like paint. Up ‘til the mid-80s, lead was an anti-knock additive and octane booster in gasoline. Those are history but lead still poses a real problem in many workplaces.

And I don’t mean pencil lead. That’s actually graphite.

Lead hazards are all over the place, in these jobs:

CRT recycling – image by NIOSH

• Demolition of old buildings.
• Metal production.
• Battery manufacturing.
• Plumbing.
• Recycling.
• Bridge work.
• Radiator repair.
• Gun ranges. Yes, gun ranges—if people are doing major work like remodeling or disturbing the soil.


In the short-term: headaches, irritability, and stomach pain.

In the long-term: nervous system damage, you have a tough time thinking, high blood pressure, poor kidney function, anemia and reproductive problems.

These can impact anybody, but they’re especially big problems for kids and pregnant women. Lead can impede brain development, and workers often carry home lead on their clothing and expose it to families.


1. Isolate or automate processes involving lead to limit worker exposure.
2. Provide good ventilation to areas containing lead.
3. Provide PPE, including respirators.
4. Provide training about lead hazards.
5. Monitor employees and lead levels in the workplace.


1. Wash hands with cool water, not hot water (that opens up the pores for the lead to enter).
2. Use soaps that remove heavy metals.
3. Shower before leaving the job site.
4. Change clothes and shoes at the end of your shift.
5. Carry those clothes home in a plastic bag to prevent that lead from contaminating the vehicle. And wash work clothes separately.
6. Talk to your doctor about potential lead hazards in your job.

That’s all for this episode on Lead Hazards. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply.

(2:47 )

See the OSHA Quick Card: If You Work Around Lead, Don’t Take It Home

OSHA’s Lead Battery Manufacturing eTool.

recycling/hand image © ℗ 2014 MORGUEFILE. All Rights Reserved. © ℗ 2010 matei
paint image by Kika Luz /

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