Exposure to lead
There has been an overall reduction in the number of British workers under medical surveillance for work with lead over the past decade. Women have consistently accounted for a small proportion of the total under surveillance, and the number of young people (under 18 years) under surveillance remains very low. The number and proportion of workers with higher levels of blood-lead concentrations have decreased substantially over the past decade.
It has recently become apparent that previously published statistics for 2012/13 were subject to undercounting. These statistics have therefore been temporarily withdrawn. The issue is being investigated with the intention of producing a revised figure as soon as possible.
The most recent medical surveillance data show:
- There were 6751 workers under medical surveillance in 2013/14, of which 96% were males
- The number of workers under surveillance in 2013/14 is slightly lower than the average for the four years prior to 2012/13
- The industry sector with the highest number of males under surveillance was the smelting, refining, alloying and casting sector
- In 2013/14, 12 males had blood-lead levels at, or above, the suspension level of 60µg/100ml compared with 139 in 2003/04
- The industry sector with the highest number of females under surveillance was the glass making industry
- In 2013/14, 1 female had blood-lead levels at, or above, the suspension level of 30µg/100ml compared with 21 in 2003/04
- There were 15 individuals (all males) suspended due to excess blood-lead levels in workers under surveillance in 2013/14 compared with 93 (83 males and 10 females) in 2003/04
The total number of British lead workers under medical surveillance since 2003/04