Lead is relatively abundant and easy to process, and it is generally durable and effective at inhibiting corrosion. For these reasons, despite its harmful effects on humans, it continues to see much usage in various industries, including construction. Indeed, construction workers are often at an elevated risk of exposure to lead and falling ill from lead poisoning.
Lead exposure in construction
Laws banned the addition of lead to various goods years ago. However, old buildings and structures built before these laws will likely have coatings, pipes and other parts containing lead.
Furthermore, lead is in many modern construction materials and processes. For example, some builders use it as a protective coating for iron and steel structures like bridges, railroads and heavy machinery. It also sees some use in electronics and welding, among other applications.
Burning lead-containing products like welding wires and solders produces toxic fumes that workers are at risk of inhaling. Cleaning, sanding and scraping lead-coated surfaces can also create poisonous dust that might enter workers’ lungs or stick to their clothes and skin. When construction workers leave the workplace without taking steps to remove lead particles from their bodies, they are likely to expose their families and other people to the hazardous substance as well.
Effects of lead poisoning
Even short-term exposure to lead can have harmful effects, especially on children. In construction workers, chronic exposure to the substance often causes lead poisoning. This condition’s symptoms usually include high blood pressure, body pains and feelings of weakness. It might also cause mood disorders, impaired memory and reproductive problems.
Exposure to lead poses severe risks to construction workers, so their workplaces should provide protective equipment and implement preventive measures. For workers who suffer an injury or illness because of their job, a workers’ compensation attorney can help fight for their rights and ensure they receive the appropriate benefits.