However, the dangers of using lead are not fully understood by many customers, so it is important to take the time to educate as many people as possible. Lead is fairly harmless in sheet form when left alone, but when it is inhaled, ingested, or absorbed by the skin, it presents a health risk.
We'll go into this further along, but first...
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Lead is an amazingly durable and versatile material that has been used by humans since at least 300 BC. It was prized for its high resistance to corrosion
Lead is naturally waterproof, providing long-lasting protection from the elements. It is easy to work with and often outlasts some synthetic materials, which is why it is still preferred for flashing and other roofing work.
Many people are surprised to discover that lead work is still widely used as a roofing material today, partly as it is regarded as being expensive, but also because of its toxic qualities.
We'll come to the question of expense later, but first, we need to look at the hazards of working with lead and let you know how CheckaRoof can help.
Occupational exposure is the main cause of lead poisoning these days. This means that most cases are among people who work with lead over long periods, as it can accumulate in the body over time.
Lead dust is created when the material is worked. Prolonged exposure can cause severe symptoms, and can even prove fatal as it attacks the central nervous system. Headaches, stomach pains and amnesia are common symptoms, but lead poisoning can also result in kidney damage. Excessive exposure will cause lead to accumulate in the body, particularly in the brain. There is no cure for lead poisoning, it can only be treated. Brain damage as a result of being exposed to lead is irreversible.
Because of this, it is essential that all lead work is carried out safely and that contractors and clients are protected from harm. CheckaRoof takes this issue seriously and always recommends professionals who take the utmost precautions. A full risk assessment of the site will be undertaken and all Control of Lead at Work Regulations will be followed.
If any roofing work is liable to expose employees to the hazards of lead, then employers must take all necessary precautions to identify and minimise the risks. Workers must be provided with appropriate training, adequate personal protection equipment, and medical surveillance.
CheckaRoof ensures that all roofing specialists follow the work regulations regarding lead work to the letter.
The Romans used lead pipes for their plumbing two thousand years ago, and this system was copied right up until lead water pipes were banned in the UK in 1969, even though the health risk was known well before this time.
Lead work was used on many period properties and ancient buildings such as churches and stately homes, many of which still have lead roofs today.
It was often used for flashings, drain joins, and damp-proof foundations, as well as for creating flat roofs on historic buildings using vast amounts of lead sheet. For example, the lead roof at Burghley House, Lincolnshire, covers an area of 3/4 acre. Restoration work in 1983 took almost 10 years to complete.
During the industrial revolution, the use of lead work rose dramatically and there have been further revivals of interest in the use of lead over the years, especially for ornamentation on grand buildings.
This means that there is a lot of lead around the UK, much of it in need of maintenance, repair, or replacement. But not all leadwork is quite so grand, and many everyday homes have lead on their roofs somewhere. CheckaRoof ensures that every project is completed to the very best standards, and with the safety measures in place to protect every employee.
Although it has its drawbacks, the main one obviously being its toxicity, lead has several benefits as a roofing material.
Because of this, and the fact that it is in relatively short supply, the cost of lead has risen. Recycling lead is actually more popular than mining it these days, and many homeowners (and churches) have found, to their cost, that lead is an attractive target for thieves.
It's as well to have security measures in place if you have a fair amount of leadwork on your roof.
CheckaRoof works with professionals who fully understand the benefits and drawbacks of lead roofing, and who are willing to offer guidance and advice on all aspects of roofing services.
Because of the hazards involved, not only from the lead itself but also because the maintenance or installation will be carried out at height, it is essential that the project is undertaken by trained, qualified, competent professionals. Each contractor must be briefed on safety measures and every employee should be aware of the risks.
Whether it's a simple case of repairing lead flashings or a full lead roof installation, the work must be carried out to the highest standards.
To make lead sheet, a lead slab is milled by passing it through steel rollers to achieve a consistent thickness. These sheets, whatever the grade, will be heavy. A professional roofer who is familiar with leadwork will understand that using the wrong grade of lead sheet could result in the failure of the roof. Also, any lead fittings must be fixed securely. Without proper support, certain pieces, such as gutters or rainwater heads, may fall.
Access to the site will probably be via scaffolding, which adds an extra element of risk, meaning that health and safety training is required.
Whatever method is used to fix the sheets in place, it is vital that it is installed correctly allowing for thermal expansion. If it is too thin and stretched too far, the lead sheet may tear as it cools down.
Employees must ensure that they have the correct tools for the task at hand. For example, a lead knife or aviation snips should be used for cutting it into shape. A lead dresser, bossing mallet, and chase wedge will be used to mould it to fit the space.
You can always tell the difference between the finished leadwork of a competent roofer and a person who isn't up to the job. But it isn't just a matter of how it looks. Poorly installed lead flashings will not protect your home from leaks and you'll soon know about it.
CheckaRoof approved roofing services always use the best contractors to ensure that the work is of the highest quality.
Lead is a hazardous substance and can cause severe symptoms, even death. However, there is no reason why working with lead shouldn't be safe, as long as you respect the material and take necessary precautions.
Every effort must be made to protect employees who are potentially exposed to lead dust. All leadwork is covered by the Control of Lead at Work Regulations. Employees must perform an assessment to identify and control any risk of exposure and record this immediately.
The roofing company is responsible for the safety of all employees and must manage the risks involved.
If you need lead work on your roof and have queries or concerns, contact CheckaRoof for further information. We offer expert advice, guidance, and support for all your roofing needs, helping you through the process of roof repair and replacement.
CheckaRoof believes in roofing excellence, however harsh the environmental factors in your local area.