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Pottery (Lead Poisoning Risk)

Volume 927: debated on Wednesday 2 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will investigate the extent of health risks from lead poisoning in the pottery industry, the extent to which employers observe the health regulations for the industry and the efforts made to control lead-bearing dusts.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the health risks from lead poisoning in the pottery industry have been under investigation for many years and their extent is well known. Approximately 1,500 lead workers in the pottery industry are subject to statutory medical examinations and between 1971 and 1976 inclusive three cases of lead poisonings in potteries have been notified under the Factories Act 1961.

Compliance by employers with the Pottery (Health) Special Regulations 1947 and the Pottery (Health and Welfare) Special Regulations 1950 is checked on a routine basis by Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate, which enforces these regulations. There have been 47 convictions for offences under the latter regulations since 1st January 1971 and action has been completed on 22 improvement notices under the same regulations since 1st January 1975 using powers under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The appropriate control measures for lead-bearing dusts are well established and, where properly used, result in effective control of the lead risk. The Joint Standing Committee for the Pottery Industry, representative of both sides of industry and the Factory Inspectorate, has considered and made recommendations on suitable control methods over the years. The pottery regulations are included in the review of existing lead legislation which is currently being undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive.

For these reasons additional investigations are not considered necessary.