Working with Lead

Health & Safety

Lead in its metallic state does not present a health risk provided that a few simple precautions are followed:

  • Always wear work-gloves when handling lead.
  • Wash your hands and forearms as soon as you finish and before you eat, drink or smoke. This applies if gloves have been worn and be careful of cross contamination if you have been wearing glasses.
  • When sweeping a Lead storage area, damp down and dust and wear a protective mask.
  • When welding Lead, follow HSE guidelines and wear eye protection.

Storage

  • All rolls of Lead should be stored in a clean dry area and ideally off the floor on a wooden base.
  • Unsealed concrete floors can leak moisture and alkalis into the Lead rolls causing red oxide staining.
  • Any contact with moisture will ingress into the layers of a Lead roll by capillary action and create a red oxide staining (similar to rust) in a matter of hours. This can sometimes be removed by using a nylon scourer and 5% nitric acid solution.
  • Where possible, flashing rolls of 450mm width or less should be stood on end to minimise the risk of damage. Wider rolls should be laid on pallets.
  • Always remember that the surface of Lead can be scored or damaged if it comes into contact with rough surfaces or sharp objects.

Handling

However obvious it may sound, people forget that a piece of Lead is always heavier than it looks.

  • Always follow the correct HSE lifting guidelines.
  • Never attempt to lift a roll of Lead on your own unless you are confident of your ability to handle it without undue effort.
  • If in doubt, either insert a strong steel bar through the roll and lift with the help of another person or employ approved mechanical handling equipment.
  • Always wear a pair of gloves to protect from both Lead dust particles (see Health & Safety notes) and sharp edges.

Working with Lead Sheet

  • Apply a hand barrier cream where possible.
  • Wear the appropriate protective clothing.
  • Lift with care - seek assistance where necessary.
  • Wash hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke until after you have washed your hands and forearms.

 

Click here to visit the 'Truth about Lead' page which features a useful video from the Lead Sheet Association.

For more detailed information you can also download a booklet entitled "Working With Lead in Construction - A Guide to Health, Safety and Environmental Care" from the Lead Sheet Association.