One specimen tested by a specialist showed that the lead content was 2.2% – more than twice the level recommended under Australian safety regulations.
At this level it is considered "high risk". Lead can be highly toxic when processed, or in this case welded, to produce dust, vapors or mist. It occurs in the body of people over time, and continued exposure can, among other things, cause brain damage and renal failure.
Although I am pleased with the strict security measures that have chosen this issue, these are totally unacceptable.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan
Employers aim to manage exposure to lead workers and identify risky work.
However, unintentional exposure to lead in major government projects highlights concerns about the use of toxic or hazardous building materials that are not in compliance with safety standards in Australia.
Thousands of height towers built in Australia over the last three decades are covered with a highly flammable coating.
CFMEU Assistant Secretary Shaun Reardon attacked the security record of the West Gate Tunnel consortium, which included last year's killed worker on the project.
"This is the work of the Victorian state administration, and the Victorian workers and their families deserve better than this," he said.
The steel was imported from Singapore's Yongnam Company. Andrews' government promised to use mostly local steel in the projects.
Up to ten staff on a road project underwent blood tests for lead poisoning, and the consortium stated that the results were within the normal exposure limit.
The source of the project said the workers were lucky to have advanced welding shields that contain an air filter, rather than ordinary shields.
Lead is removed from the base of the paint.
Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said it was "totally unacceptable" for workers to be exposed to leadership.
"Although I am pleased with the strict security measures that have chosen this issue, these are totally unacceptable," said Allan.
"I have asked the Director General of the Large Transport Infrastructure Office to talk with the participating companies to ensure the safety of workers and the public."
Work safety spokeswoman Nick Wakeling said the government needed to reassure workers about other government-funded projects that "they are not exposed to toxic lead from contaminated steel."
The West Gate Transurban Tunnel Project is a six-speed communications linking the West Gate in Yarraville with CityLink in western Melbourne.
Preliminary work is ongoing to sink two 90-meter and 4,000-tonne tunnels – 16 meters high – as high as five-story buildings – under Melbourne to the west to kick the project.
For these boring machines to work, a tremendous temporary support has to be built to drop them. These supports were built with lead steel.
West Ham's project director-general, Peter Sammut, said the job ended when the problem was identified. "Security is our first priority," he said,
Victoria Railway Projects Executive Director Evan Tattersall said the steps were "in the way" to make sure there was no repetition. He also said security for workers was his "first priority".
Lead has been banned from 2010 as a household coating additive, but can still be traced. Older Australian homes can contain color with extremely high levels of lead. Leaded petrol was banned in Australia in 2002.
Yongnam was approached for comments.
The Western Gate Tunnel was sold as a panacea for traffic jams in the western suburbs and as a project to free space on the West Gate Bridge.
But its urban off-ramps also pour thousands of other cars into northern and western Melbourne, which the city council says will abolish decades of limiting the number of cars in these areas.
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Ben Schneiders is an aging scientific journal with a report on labor relations, business, politics and social issues. The Double Walkie Award winner is part of the Age Examination Unit since 2015.
Clay Lucas is a senior age reporter. Clay has been working since 2005, including urban affairs, transport, state policy, local government and workplace relationships for ages and middle ages.