Lead industry promotes improved risk management at facilities in developing countries
As part of its commitment to improving risk management in the lead industry, particularly in developing countries, the International Lead Association (ILA) has launched a series of guides to good working practices for workers and managers. The guidance notes – Working Safely with Lead – produced by the ILA in conjunction with the International Lead Management Center (ILMC), aim to explain in a non-technical way how to manage and minimise the risks of lead exposure and contamination. The first three guides in the series General Information for Managers and Workers, Design of Changing Rooms and Washing Facilities, Effluent Control and Monitoring, are now freely available from the ILA and on its website and include 10 golden rules for the protection of lead industry workers. These guides form part of the ILA’s Lead Action 21 (ILA21) programme of responsible care which sets out to embed the principles of sustainable development throughout the lead producing world. The recycling of used lead-acid batteries, in some countries well above 90%, has been one of the success stories of the lead industry in recent years. However, implementing the required regulatory standards has not always kept pace with the rapid rise in the number of lead facilities in developing countries. ILA Managing Director, Dr Andy Bush, said: “We believe these guides will be a useful tool to help inform employers and workers at lead operations, ranging from mining to smelting and refining, including product recycling, wherever its location, on how to work safely with lead.”
Work to support and improve the lead industry in developing countries and nations in transition is carried out on behalf of the ILA by the ILMC. The ILMC works with the lead industry, the Basel Secretariat (SBC), government environment agencies and intergovernmental bodies, such as the UN International Lead Zinc Study Group (ILZSG ) and NGOs such as the Blacksmith Institute.
In recent years, the risk management principles set out in these published guides were used by the ILMC, at used lead acid battery (ULAB) recycling plants in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Senegal to assist in the design and construction of new changing and eating facilities and the introduction of polices for personal protective equipment. The designs for control and treatment systems for plant effluent were also adopted in Costa Rica and Senegal. While the levels of lead exposure in the lead industry (1) have declined significantly in the developed world over the past twenty five years the protection of workers does, and will always, require close attention. This has meant significant investment by the lead industry in research and improvement programmes to improve occupational and environmental controls. End
Notes to editors
About the ILA
The International Lead Association is a membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead and almost two thirds of lead production in the western world. With offices in the UK and USA the ILA provides a range of technical, scientific and communications support and is focused on all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead and helps funds bodies such as the International Lead Management Center and the International Lead Zinc Research Organization.
About the ILMC
The International Lead Management Center (ILMC) was created in 1996 by the international lead industry, in conjunction with the OECD. The ILMC offers hands-on advice and assistance from its experts in developing countries and nations in transition across the globe. It works with the lead industry, the Basel Secretariat (SBC), government environment agencies and intergovernmental bodies, such as the UN International Lead Zinc Study Group (ILZSG) and NGOs such as the Blacksmith Institute. The ILMC assists with the management of the risks associated with lead and its impact on the environment and human health across all aspects of the lead industry from mining, smelting, refining product manufacturing and recycling. For more information on the work of the ILMC please contact [email protected] 1 In the USA there was a decline in the prevalence of blood lead (≥.25 μg/dl) from 14 per 100,000 employees in 1994 to 6.3 in 2009. This significant reduction in occupational exposures is also apparent in Europe as illustrated by UK data showing that the percentage of workers with blood lead (50 μg/dl) has fallen from approximately 10% in 1996/97 to less than 3% in 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6025a2.htm http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/lead/lead.pdf