Last reviewed 28 June 2021

A company has pleaded guilty to breaching the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002, after workers were exposed to harmful lead dust during the repair and refurbishment of church bells at a church in Barton-Upon-Humber.

Grimsby Magistrates’ Court heard that John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Ltd were carrying out part of a planned maintenance project on 20 March 2019 that involved stripping off rust and old paint from the metal bell frame and fittings. After work had already been underway for some time, the old paint was confirmed to contain lead.

Lead pigments were not removed from commonly used paints until the early 1980s and can be found under existing paintwork in older buildings. Breathing or ingesting lead dust or fume can cause serious problems like kidney, nerve and brain damage or infertility.

Investigating Health and Safety Executive (HSE) officers found that the workers who had been stripping the paint had been exposed to harmful lead dust because they had been using power tools (which generate excess levels of dust). The company did not have proper cleaning techniques and personal protective equipment in place.

When working with lead paints, the HSE recommends to:

  • plan the work — remove or protect soft furnishings and surfaces with plastic sheeting. Wear

    disposable overalls and an FFP3 mask

  • stop dust getting into the air by using wet abrasive paper or on-tool extraction

  • stop lead fume being produced by setting hot air guns or infrared equipment below 500°C. Do not use gas torches or blow lamps

  • wash hands and forearms before eating, drinking and smoking.

John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Ltd of Loughborough pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 5(1), of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002. The company has been fined £13,333 and ordered to pay £6,469.90 in costs.