Lead Protection is Essential for General Contractors: Protect Yourself and Your Workers

Lead is a heavy metal toxin that can cause severe growth issues in infants and toddlers below the age of six. At high levels, it can also be the cause of death for young children. Although children are usually the most vulnerable, adults are not immune to the effects of lead poisoning either.

Here we look at why lead protection is essential for you and your employees.

Lead Protection

Why Lead Safety is Extremely Important for Contractors

Given that a careless contractor and his crew are often the first people who come into contact with lead, asbestos and other toxins in old houses,

it’s of the utmost importance that contractors fully understand why they are at risk and what that risk could mean.

Ideally, the owner should have an old home checked for dangerous chemicals through the proper channels before calling in the contractor for renovation and remodeling work.

Unfortunately,

very few homeowners are that responsible, so it falls upon the contractor to ensure that he and his crew are not stepping into a toxic environment.

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If they ignore that duty, the results can be quite devastating, as lead from paint, pipes, and roofing during renovations can lead to the following symptoms and effects even in adult workers,

provided the proper safety measures were not taken:

  • Hypertension
  • Sudden joint pain and headaches
  • Muscle cramps and abdominal cramps
  • Acute abdominal pain
  • Mood swings and general tendency to lose patience or go into depression

During renovations, a lethal dose of lead exposure is not uncommon or unlikely, which means that even death is not out of the question when you are trying to scrape off paint

or

break down the old walls of a house that was built half-a-century ago!

Don’t forget also that the symptoms of lead exposure might not arise immediately, so it could be a while before you become aware you were exposed to lead.

How Contractors Can Protect their Business, Workers, Clients and Themselves from Lead Poisoning

Lead is found in all sorts of places, from water, soil, and even the air. However, the biggest risk of exposure comes from led inside the home or older commercial buildings.

This is why contractors need to be extremely careful.

Homes built prior to 1978 are very likely to have lead in them. Lead-based paint was banned in 1878, but it’s probably still present on staircases, door frames, and porches.

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When the paint is in good condition, the risk is minimal, but flaking paint or paint that’s being sanded down is a hazard. 

Knowledge regarding the primary sources of lead in a household is the basic requirement,

of course, complemented by proper training on how to handle lead hazards with the right kind of protective gear.

It’s a good idea to carry out a risk assessment in properties built before 1978.

If you’re being asked to carry out major construction work or renovations, be aware that exposure to lead is an occupational hazard.

For this reason, specialist training is a good investment.

Lead Certification Training

Contractors can check contractors requirements for lead training and certifications with ZOTA Pro

to decide whether the team or even just one member of the team can really use certified training to protect their whole crew against potential lead hazards.

There are various courses available, so have a look and see which ones might benefit your business and the health of your employees.

Remember,

the more specialist qualifications you have, the easier it will be to persuade clients your business is legitimate.

In addition,

employees will have more faith in you when you encourage them to study for essential health and safety qualifications.

The Guidebook

Only proper training can prepare you for real-life scenarios, but here’s a brief but informative set of pointers to help contractors and workers stay safe:

  • Cover the floor with plastic sheeting, or preferably drop cloths to catch lead dust and prevent it from spreading
  • Spray water properly and thoroughly over an area that’s about to be dusted, scraped, hammered, sanded, etc.
  • Make sure everyone on the site is wearing an OSHA-approved lead respirator
  • Clean up with classic wet mopping, and do throw away the mop head after you are done
  • Everyone should cover as much of their body as possible during the job, and leave the clothes and protection gear at the site

In some states, it may also be a requirement for contractors to have certificates in lead risk assessment or lead renovation among others, but it shouldn’t matter.

If you want your employees and yourself to remain safe and keep working for a long time to come,

it just makes no sense to work in hazardous environments without sufficient knowledge and protection.

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