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Lead Poisoning: Are Missouri Construction Workers and Their Families at Risk?

by James M. Hoffmann on Mar. 10, 2017

Employment Workers' Compensation Accident & Injury Employment  Occupational Safety & Health 

Summary: Lead exposure in the workplace can lead to some very serious occupational illnesses, some of which can be life threatening.

Of the many risks that construction workers face every day at work, one of the deadliest involves exposure to harmful substances such as lead. What makes things worse is that they can bring lead home on their work tools and clothes, exposing their family to this deadly chemical and causing lifelong physical, learning and behavior problems. In this post, our St. Louis workers compensation lawyer will discuss how construction workers and their families face the risk of lead poisoning.

Types of workers at greatest risk of suffering lead poisoning

Many types of workers involved in construction work are exposed to a high risk of lead poisoning. Workers often ingest lead by inhaling it as fumes, mist or dust. However, they can also swallow lead dust when eating, smoking or drinking. Although lead is banned from household use, it is still found in many materials used in construction worksites. Some of the lead containing construction materials may include:

  • Roofs

  • Electrical conduits

  • Cornices

  • Tank linings

  • Soft solder used to solder copper pipe joints and tin plates

  • Lead based paints used on railroads, bridges, ships, and other steel structures


Some workers who face highest risk of being exposed to lead include:

  • Ironworkers

  • Painters

  • Welders

  • Demolition workers

  • Laborers working on lead containing structures

Other types of construction workers who face the risk of lead poisoning include:

  • Heating and air conditioning workers

  • Plumbers

  • Electricians

  • Carpenters

  • Renovation and home improvement workers

Workers may face the risk of lead poisoning during the various processes involved in construction work. Some of these processes include:

  • Abrasive blasting

  • Lead burning

  • Cutting, welding and burning while working on steel structures

  • Using lead containing mortar products

  • Cleaning power tools with or without a dust collection system

  • Using power tools such as sanders, needle guns, heat guns and grinders

  • Rivet busting

  • Removing or moving abrasive blasting enclosures

  • Manual sanding and scraping

  • Cleaning up jobs in lead-contaminated work areas  

  • Manual demolishing of structures

  • Spray painting or painting using lead-based paints


Lead exposure in the workplace can lead to some very serious occupational illnesses, some of which can be life threatening. If you are a construction worker who is exposed to lead on the job, you should take appropriate steps to protect your family. This includes showering and washing before you return home from work. Make sure not to bring your work clothes home or wash them separately from those of other family members. Remember, even a small mistake on your part can expose your family to this harmful substance.

Long term exposure to lead can cause permanent damage. It can affect the brain, reproductive system and kidneys. If you have developed an occupational illness as a result of exposure to lead in the workplace, you may be entitled to Missouri workers compensation benefits. Get in touch with an experienced St. Louis workers compensation attorney at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann today at (314) 361-4300.


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