An Assessment of Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Substances

History of Hazardous Substances in building

As a part of their continuing commitment to comply with Health and Safety Legislations, a company we previously undertook a Lead Survey for, invited us back in order to complete an assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances. Our aims for this project were to measure the concentration of lead dust in the working environment, to establish the daily personal exposure to the employees at risk and to advise our client on suitable risk control. 

The property we’re returning to is a 5-storey residential property currently under extensive refurbishment. The work on the building includes a removal of internal furnishing, removal of some damaged and deteriorated floor, extensive groundwork, structural steel reinforcements, removal of decorative paint to external walls and internal windows. The working day for operatives starts at 7.30am and finishes at 6pm with a 1 hour break in between. The total exposure time of the operatives is 10 and a half hours and the number of operatives on site is variable between 20 and 40 depending on the nature of the tasks being undertaken. The only ventilation in the building is provided by open windows. Some of the materials in the building such as paint to external walls and paint to windows, doors and some ceiling contain significant quantities of lead. Operatives working on these surfaces are likely to be exposed to lead containing dust during their day-to-day duties.

Assessment of Occupational exposure to hazardous substances

Sampling and analysis of hazardous substances

We collected Airborne particulates and vapours using Cassella and Gillian personal samplers. We also collected samples for inhalable and respirable dust using a 7-hole sampling heads fitted with QMA filters.

Assessment of occupational exposure to hazardous substances

Minimalising occupational exposure to hazardous substances 

Air monitoring results suggested that the employees are unlikely to be exposed to levels of lead above the workplace exposure limits (WELs) . The exposure of the cleaner working on site was not exceeded but is considered as significant, so the use of respiratory protective equipment during normal working activities in relation to lead dust is not required. However it is recommended that cleaners and any operatives likely to disturb significant quantities of dust use respiratory protective equipment in order to protect themselves. Our surveyor concluded that contaminants within the building are being adequately controlled and does not believe that a formal health surveillance program is required. We strongly recommend that all employees should be trained on the safe use of hazardous substance in the workplace, the recommended control measures and all associated health issues. Refresher training should occur at least once a year in order for the employees to be up to date with any changes to training and protocols. 

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