Working safe with Lead

Keep temperature below 400 degrees C.

The melting point of lead is 327 C and there should be no need to heat above 400C for casting. Below 400C fume is not measurable, but it increases as the temperature increases. If you work with good ventilation, and you keep the temperature below 400C there is no need for respirators or special extraction fans to protect against fume.

 

Wash hands after handling lead

Wiping with alcohol wipes is NOT washing. You need to wash with soap under running water to thoroughly remove traces of lead. Wipes may be OK for germs, and may make the hands appear cleaner, but they do not remove traces of lead properly. They wipe lead off one spot and move it about, but not OFF. Lead is not absorbed through the skin but is transferred from the skin and ingested. We have worked with lead for decades without high lead levels, by practicing strict hygiene. Especially, do not eat or smoke without washing hands thoroughly.

 

Keep work areas clean and contain skimmings or dross

Inhalation of particulates, or fine lead dust, has the same effect as ingestion by mouth – it is poisonous. Skimmings or dross should be placed in a closed container, and dross should be minimised by not over-heating or over-stirring the metal. Grinding, cutting or polishing metal containing lead produces fine particles which may be inhaled. Avoiding production of dust is best, but if not, then a well-fitting dust mask should be worn.

 

Avoid moisture getting into molten lead.

Keep metal off the shed floor, keep the metal dry. Moisture turns to steam in molten metal and as it expands it can cause an “explosion” of metal. It is possible for molten metal to be ejected the length and height of a a workshed – just a drop of sweat, a drop of water from a leaky roof, an unfortunate moth landing on the metal, or in humid weather a ladle put into the metal – any moisture is a hazard. Preheat cold ladles before plunging them into hot metal and add only dry metal.

 

Footwear

Usually not mentioned in safety warnings, but consider how bad it could be if you spilled hot metal into your shoe and you couldn’t remove the shoe quickly… and what if the socks were synthetic?  You probably want to wear shorts and thongs, but trousers that come over the top of your boot are safer!

Keep temperature below 400 degrees C.

The melting point of lead is 327 C and there should be no need to heat above 400C for casting. Below 400C fume is not measurable, but it increases as the temperature increases. If you work with good ventilation, and you keep the temperature below 400C there is no need for respirators or special extraction fans to protect against fume.

 

Wash hands after handling lead

Wiping with alcohol wipes is NOT washing. You need to wash with soap under running water to thoroughly remove traces of lead. Wipes may be OK for germs, and may make the hands appear cleaner, but they do not remove traces of lead properly. They wipe lead off one spot and move it about, but not OFF. Lead is not absorbed through the skin but is transferred from the skin and ingested. We have worked with lead for decades without high lead levels, by practicing strict hygiene. Especially, do not eat or smoke without washing hands thoroughly.

 

Keep work areas clean and contain skimmings or dross

Inhalation of particulates, or fine lead dust, has the same effect as ingestion by mouth – it is poisonous. Skimmings or dross should be placed in a closed container, and dross should be minimised by not over-heating or over-stirring the metal. Grinding, cutting or polishing metal containing lead produces fine particles which may be inhaled. Avoiding production of dust is best, but if not, then a well-fitting dust mask should be worn.

 

Avoid moisture getting into molten lead.

Keep metal off the shed floor, keep the metal dry. Moisture turns to steam in molten metal and as it expands it can cause an “explosion” of metal. It is possible for molten metal to be ejected the length and height of a a workshed – just a drop of sweat, a drop of water from a leaky roof, an unfortunate moth landing on the metal, or in humid weather a ladle put into the metal – any moisture is a hazard. Preheat cold ladles before plunging them into hot metal and add only dry metal.

 

Footwear

Usually not mentioned in safety warnings, but consider how bad it could be if you spilled hot metal into your shoe and you couldn’t remove the shoe quickly… and what if the socks were synthetic?  You probably want to wear shorts and thongs, but trousers that come over the top of your boot are safer!

© 2019 Northern Smelters

admin@northernsmelters.com.au

+61 7 3208 2724