North Wales factory workers exposed to high lead levels

A North Wales ceramic tile factory has been prosecuted after a Health and Safety Executive investigation found nine workers to have high levels of lead in their blood.

Llandudno Magistrates heard how the employees at Craig Bragdy Design, of Denbigh, were above national safety lead limits putting them at risk of serious health problems. The workers were tested after the issue was uncovered in February 2012 following a routine visit by the HSE.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Katherine Walker said: “Craig Bragdy Design could easily have avoided exposing its workforce to this chronic toxin by following the regulations, having a proper risk assessment and making sure staff were monitored for lead in their blood on a regular basis.”

The HSE’s investigation found that the company:

  • Failed to control its employees’ exposure to lead
  • Failed to carry out a proper risk assessment for the work
  • Failed to measure the concentration of lead in the air
  • Failed to provide medical surveillance for the workers
  • Failed to provide the workers with sufficient information and training

Staff “above” national safety lead limits

Staff at Craig Bragdy Design, which uses colour glazes containing lead in its tiling work, were subjected to testing following the HSE’s inspection.

Llandudno Magistrates were told that three female workers had blood levels – one of them significantly higher – at or above the suspension limit.

Under the suspension limit, which is enshrined by law, Craig Bragdy Design should have removed them from working with lead until the concentration in their blood naturally reduced .

An additional five women and one man were also found to be above the action level which alerts employers that a worker is nearing the suspension level.

The HSE’s investigation concluded that at this stage Craig Bragdy Design should have looked into the cause of the lead levels and reviewed its control measures.

Ms Walker said: “The effects of high levels of lead in the blood can be very damaging, especially for pregnant women or those planning to have babies.”

“Workers should not have to sacrifice their health for their jobs and this is why it’s vital that employers act on the regulations.”

Craig Bragdy Design pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 and was fined a total of £35,000 and ordered to pay costs of £23,271.

Further information on working with lead can be found on the HSE website

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