Exposure to Lead in Great Britain 2020


All workers with significant lead exposure – as defined in the Control of Lead at Work (CLAW) Regulations – are required to undergo medical surveillance which includes measurement of blood-lead concentrations. Employers are responsible for deciding whether workers should be under medical surveillance, which is then carried out at least every 12 months by a HSE appointed doctor.


The statistics in this HSE report are compiled from annual summaries from appointed doctors of blood lead levels among workers they have examined under this surveillance regime. It is noted that the coverage of the statistics is limited by the extent of medical surveillance that occurs in practice.

Headline figures

  • 4,534 lead workers under medical surveillance in Great Britain, 2019/20.

  • 14 lead workers suspended from work due to excess blood-lead levels.

  • Number of workers under surveillance 2019/20 - females 211 (5%); males 4,323 (95%).

  • Top five industry sectors for males under medical surveillance (3-year average): 1. smelting, refining, alloying and casting 2. lead battery manufacture 3. work with metalic lead and lead containing alloys 4. demolition industry 5. lead battery recycling.

  • Top five industry sectors for females under medical surveillance (3-year average): 1. smelting, refining, alloying and casting 2. work with metalic lead and lead containing alloys 3. lead battery manufacture 4. scrap industry (including pipes, flashing, cables) 5. glass making (including cutting and etching).

The full report on exposure to lead can be found here.

HSE May 2021

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