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Executive Summary of Exposure to Lead Statistics 2022

Our latest blog post summarises the HSE 2022 report on lead exposure in Great Britain. Notably, there was a 23% increase in workers under medical surveillance for lead exposure, rising to 4,438 in 2021/22. Key sectors include smelting, refining, and paint removal. The majority of workers had safe blood-lead levels, though a small percentage exceeded the threshold, leading to work suspensions. This report underscores the importance of continuous monitoring and safety measures in managing lead exposure in the workplace.

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Executive Summary of the HSE Report on Lead Exposure in Great Britain

This blog post presents an executive summary of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on lead exposure in Great Britain for the year 2022. We've distilled the key findings and statistics from the report into easily digestible sections, making it simple for you to understand the current situation and trends.

1. Increase of 23% in Workers Under Medical Surveillance

In the 2021/22 period, there were 4,438 workers under medical surveillance for lead exposure, marking a 23% increase from the 3,602 workers in 2020/21. This increase is likely due to the impact of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on the 2020/21 statistics. However, the number of workers under surveillance has shown a long-term downward trend over the last two decades. (Source: HSE Report, page 6)

2. 6% of Workers Under Medical Surveillance are Women

Of the workers under medical surveillance in 2021/22, 252 were women, constituting 6% of the total. This figure is slightly higher than the average of 4% in the years leading up to the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: HSE Report, page 6)

3. Only One Young Male (Under 18) Under Medical Surveillance

In 2021/22, there was only one young male person under medical surveillance, which is consistent with numbers from recent years, barring 2018/19 when 15 young people were under surveillance. (Source: HSE Report, page 7)

4. Smelting, Refining, Alloying and Casting Sector Account for 12% of Males Under Surveillance

This sector generally has the highest number of males under medical surveillance, accounting for 12% of all males under surveillance in 2021/22 and 14% during the three-year period from 2019/20 to 2021/22. (Source: HSE Report, page 8)

5. 15% of Males Under Surveillance are in the Paint Removal Sector

In 2021/22, the paint removal sector accounted for 15% of all male workers under medical surveillance, marking a significant increase from 5% in 2020/21. (Source: HSE Report, page 8)

6. 21% of Females Under Surveillance Work with Metallic Lead and Lead Containing Alloys

For females, the industry sector with the highest number of workers under surveillance in 2021/22 was working with metallic lead and lead containing alloys, accounting for 21% of all female workers. (Source: HSE Report, page 9)

7. 88% of Male Workers and 98% of Female Workers Have Blood-Lead Concentrations Below 25µg/100ml

The majority of workers under medical surveillance have blood-lead concentrations below 25µg/100ml. In 2021/22, this included 3,683 (88%) of the 4,186 male workers and 247 (98%) of the 252 female workers. (Source: HSE Report, page 10)

8. 0.2% of Male Workers Have Blood-Lead Levels at or Above 60µg/100ml

In 2021/22, the number of males with blood-lead levels at or above 60µg/100ml was 10 (0.2% of all male workers under surveillance), slightly down from the average of 17 per year in the three-year period before the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: HSE Report, page 11)

9. 0.5% of Male Workers Suspended Due to Excess Blood-Lead Levels

In 2021/22, 21 males (0.5% of all male workers under surveillance) were suspended from work due to excess blood-lead levels. (Source: HSE Report, page 15)

10. One Female Worker Suspended Due to Excess Blood-Lead Levels

One female worker was suspended from work due to an excess of blood-lead in 2021/22. (Source: HSE Report, page 15)


Lead exposure in the workplace remains a significant concern in Great Britain, with thousands of workers under medical surveillance. While the long-term trend shows a decrease in the number of workers under surveillance, it's crucial for industries to continue prioritizing worker safety and adhering to regulations to prevent lead poisoning.


Richard O'Connor's Headshot

Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.

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