Permissible workplace lead exposure levels revised


This training brochure applies to all employers in Victoria whose workers are exposed to lead processes in the workplace.

Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Regulations 2018 No.71 (Vic)

The Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Regulations 2018 No.71 (Vic) (the Amending Regulations) amend the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (Vic) (the Regulations). The Amending Regulations commenced on 5 June 2018.

Permitted lead exposure levels to decrease

Subscribers should be aware that from 5 June 2020, permissible lead exposure levels in the workplace will be decreased as follows:

  • Under regulation 186, an employee must not be exposed to an airborne concentration of lead dust, lead mist or lead fumes in the employee’s breathing zone at a workplace in excess of 0·05 milligrams per cubic metre calculated as a time weighted average of the atmospheric concentration of lead over an 8-hour working day and a 40-hour working week.
  • Under regulation 193, lead-risk work will mean work performed in a lead process that is reasonably likely to cause the blood lead level of the employee to exceed:
    • for a woman of reproductive capacity, 0·24 micromoles/litre (5 micrograms/decilitre); or
    • in any other case, 0·97 micromoles/litre (20 micrograms/decilitre).
  • Under regulation 198, employers must arrange for the biological monitoring of their employees who are engaged in lead-risk work as follows:
    • for a woman not of reproductive capacity or a man:
      • 6 months after the last biological monitoring if the result of the last monitoring shows a blood lead level of less than 0·48 micromoles/litre (10 micrograms/decilitre); or
      • 3 months after the last biological monitoring if the result of the last monitoring shows a blood lead level of 0·48 micromoles/litre (10 micrograms/decilitre) or more but less than 0·97 micromoles/litre (20 micrograms/decilitre); or
      • 6 weeks after the last biological monitoring if the result of the last monitoring shows a blood lead level of 0·97 micromoles/litre (20 micrograms/decilitre) or more;
    • for a woman of reproductive capacity:
      • 3 months after the last biological monitoring if the result of the last monitoring shows a blood lead level of less than 0·24 micromoles/litre (5 micrograms/decilitre); or
      • 6 weeks after the last biological monitoring if the result of the last monitoring shows a blood lead level of 0·24 micromoles/litre (5 micrograms/decilitre) or more but less than 0·48 micromoles/litre (10 micrograms/decilitre).
    • Under regulation 199, an employer will be required to remove an employee from lead-risk work if:
      • the results of biological monitoring reveal that the blood lead level of the employee is at or exceeding:
        • for a woman not of reproductive capacity or a man, 1·45 micromoles/litre (30 micrograms/decilitre); or
        • for a woman of reproductive capacity, 0·48 micromoles/litre (10 micrograms/decilitre); or
      • following a medical examination by a registered medical practitioner, the practitioner is of the opinion that the employee must be removed from the work; or
      • there is an indication that risk control measures have failed and, as a result, it is likely that the blood lead level of the employee will reach or exceed the levels set out above.
    • Under regulation 200, if a medical examination of an employee removed under regulation 199(1)(c) or (1A)(c) reveals that the blood lead level of the employee is below the relevant level set out in regulation 199(1A)(a), employers may only allow employees to return to the lead-risk work with the agreement of a medical practitioner.
    • Under regulation 201, an employer must ensure that an employee does not return to lead-risk work until:
      • the employee’s blood lead level is less than:
        • for a woman not of reproductive capacity or a man, 0·97 micromoles/litre (20 micrograms/decilitre); or
        • for a woman of reproductive capacity, 0·24 micromoles/litre (5 micrograms/decilitre); and
      • a registered medical practitioner certifies that the employee is fit to return to the lead-risk work.

Conclusion

In light of the changes made to the Regulations, organisations should update their systems and controls in preparation for the lead level changes discussed above and as set out in the VIC – OH&S – Lead module.

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au