OHS Code Explanation Guide

Published Date: July 01, 2009
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Part 4 Chemical Hazards, Biological Hazards and Harmful Substances

Section 43 Medical monitoring for lead

If it is reasonably likely that a worker could receive significant exposure to lead, the employer must ensure that blood lead level testing is available to the worker and the worker is informed of the availability of the blood lead test. Significant exposure to lead can occur during work at firing ranges, radiator shops and electronic recycling facilities. The purpose of the health assessment is to provide a baseline measure of the worker’s health and should include a health history, physical examination and blood lead testing.

When hiring a worker, it is the employer’s responsibility to require the worker to have a health assessment and it should be also offered to all workers involved in work that may result in elevated blood lead levels. Yearly testing is recommended.

Measuring the concentration of lead in the blood is one way of determining the amount of lead in the body from all exposures. It is the best available measure of recent lead absorption. Blood lead levels should be less than 1.5 micromoles per litre. A worker with a blood level of 2.5 micromoles per litre or greater or symptoms diagnosed as a result of lead exposure is considered to have lead poisoning. The physician performing the testing should explain the results of blood lead testing to the worker. The Director of Medical Services must be notified if a worker has a blood level of 2.5 micromoles per litre or greater. For more information refer to the Safety Bulletin shown below.

For more information
Notifiable Occupational Diseases – Information for Physicians
Bulletin MG030

Where the worker has lead poisoning, Alberta Human Services occupational health and safety officers, under the direction of the Director of Medical Services, can order the employer to remove the worker from further lead exposure. The Director of Medical Services is a staff member of Alberta Human Services, appointed by the Minister under section 5 of the OHS Act.

Female workers of childbearing age who are considering becoming pregnant should be monitored to safeguard the fetus from the harmful effects of lead. The blood lead level should be kept below 0.5 micromoles per litre to protect the fetus.

The employer is responsible for paying the cost of the health assessment and ensuring that an accredited laboratory conducts the analyses of blood lead tests.