Company fined for lead exposure

Company fined for lead exposure

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A fire assay company with offices in Maddington has been fined $30,000 and ordered to pay $5647 in costs after four workers recorded high levels of lead in their blood and one was taken to hospital.

Jinning Pty Ltd pleaded guilty under the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 to two charges of failing to ensure that biological monitoring was conducted on an employee in a lead-risk job, along with two charges of failing to ensure that counselling and health surveillance were provided to workers in a lead-risk job.

The company was fined $17,000 on the two biological monitoring charges and a total of $13,000 on the two health surveillance charges in Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court on Monday.

Jinning has two locations – West Kalgoorlie and Maddington – at which fire assay work is conducted, including determining the precious metal content of core samples using lead flux. These charges relate to the West Kalgoorlie premises.

In April 2022, a worker at Jinning became ill and his blood lead levels were measured at 97.5 micrograms per decilitre. The regulations require that a worker must be removed from a lead-risk job if their lead level is at or above 30 micrograms per decilitre.

Workers in lead-risk jobs must be provided with monitoring of their lead levels to ensure they stay at or below the 30 micrograms limit.

WorkSafe deputy commissioner Sally North said the case was the first time WorkSafe had prosecuted a company for failing to provide health surveillance for workers with lead exposure.

“Lead poisoning can lead to serious complications such as high blood pressure and brain, kidney and reproductive health issues,” she said.

As a result of the WorkSafe investigation, Jinning put into place new procedures to ensure blood tests are routinely carried out at both their sites, and has improved its workplace practices to reduce workers’ exposure to harmful levels of lead.