Something very interesting caught my eye on the WorkSafeBC website yesterday. I was looking for some forms to share with our crew leaders and I saw this report on lead paint put out by WorkSafeBC in March 2016. I dug a bit further and discovered WorkSafeBC is in the process of adding new policies around preventing exposure to lead. This includes containment of lead dust and particles when working on old painted surfaces.
This is a big change in our Canadian government policy on dealing with lead coatings.
Paint used to contain lead because it was washable and durable. Prior to 1940, almost all paint contained lead. The use of lead paint in interiors declined significantly due to health concerns over lead, but it was still widely used on exteriors. The U.S. banned the use of lead in any paint products by 1978. Canada was slow to follow in changing policies with Health Canada banning lead paints in the 1990s.
If you own a heritage house built before 1940 you almost certainly have lead paint on your walls. It poses no major hazard as it is, but as soon as you disrupt it, you are exposing lead dust into the air.
In the U.S., the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) addressed these risks with a set of laws around the remediation and management of lead paint chips and dust when working on homes older than 1978. This especially applies to painters. In the U.S. painters are required to be trained and licensed to work on houses that contain lead.n
Canada has lagged on any type of regulation to protect the public from the harmful risks associated with lead dust.
Warline has always been a leader in our industry and we have been early adopters of HEPA filtered dust extractors and sanding equipment. As soon at Festool brought their line of sanders and dust extractors to the market in Canada we started using the equipment on all of heritage repaint projects. This was changing the way we worked and created a better work environment.
Safe containment of lead dust has been at the top of our safety protocol since 2011. It is safer for our crews, our customers, and their families. There has never been any law or regulation mandating we did this. It’s the Warline Way and it makes us BetterPainters.
It’s nice to see WorkSafeBC finally addressing this issuing and mandating safe practices regarding lead paint. We look forward to seeing what these new guidelines and regulations include and what they will be changing.
If you own a heritage house in Vancouver, New Westminster or the lower mainland and need to have it painted, make sure your painter has a plan for containing lead paint chips and dust. Pretty soon it might be the law.