Revision of Safe Work Australia Exposure Standard for Lead

On April 27, 2018, Safe Work Australia published its latest revision of Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants.

Included in this latest revision is the long-awaited lowering of the Exposure Standard for Inorganic Lead (dust and fumes) to 0.05 mg/m³ (50 µg/m³).  The previous standard was set at 0.15 mg/m³.

The step brings Australia into line with most other countries that have significant lead industries.  In the US, the equivalent TLV for inorganic lead has been set at 0.05mg/m³ since 1994.

This revised Exposure Standard for lead formalises the Action Level for workplace lead exposure at 30 µg/m³, which is 60% of the Exposure Standard as suggested in the latest September 2017 revision of AS/NZS 4361.1, Guide to hazardous paint management. Part 1: Lead and other hazardous metallic pigments in industrial applications.

This revision of the Exposure Standard was first foreshadowed in the Safe Work Australia Consultation Regulation Impact Statement Managing risks associated with lead in the workplace: blood lead levels and exposure standards, dated December 2015.  

We draw this revision to the attention of the industry, especially of those people who have completed CTI’s training course “Responsible Person for Hazardous Paint Management”, and ask them to update their own records accordingly.

The 2015 Consultation Regulation Impact Statement also foreshadowed the reduction of the Blood Lead removal level (for males and females not of reproductive capacity) from the present 50µg/dL to 30µg/dL, and the revision of the definition of lead risk work (above which health monitoring is mandatory) from the present 30µg/dL to 20µg/dL (also for males and females not of reproductive capacity).  CTI understands that both of these additional changes have been accepted in principle by the relevant agencies and are currently going through the process of formal enactment.

Fred Salome – 30/4/2018