Spray painting can be very satisfying and rewarding when you look proudly at your beautifully newly decorated room or freshly painted furniture, gleaming car, smart garden fencing or anything you have worked on to give it a fresh new look and good protection. For many people spray painting is their work and every day they are spray painting everything from boats, trains and aircraft to factories, shops and houses – inside and out! The most important thing before you tackle any spray painting job – big or small – is to ensure that yours will be safe and healthy spray painting.
Whilst the enthusiasm for spray painting can be overwhelming – especially if it is not something you often do, it is well worth taking a few moments to read this article and to be guided by it so that you can enjoy safe and healthy spray painting as there are risks associated with it and these need to be minimized if not eliminated otherwise you put your health at risk and your painting job will turn out to be far from the fun and pleasurable task that you thought it would be.
The main and very point to remember is that you will be handling hazardous chemicals. Hazardous chemicals are not only found in the paint that you will be using but also in acrylic lacquers, enamels, solvents, paint removers and strippers and in adhesives. If these substances are not used safely to minimize risks there are health hazards both short term and long term – particularly if this is your work and you are spray painting regularly. Long-term health risks include kidney problems and lung cancer so it is well worth ensuring that that you take all the preventative measures that you can to minimize the risks.
1 Minimising or Eliminating Hazardous Chemicals
- Always wear protective clothing and equipment and wear it correctly.
- Use safe spraying procedures and have clean up and emergency procedures at the ready to deal with problems speedily.
- Choose water-based paint rather than organic solvent paints.
- Always mark out the spraying area with barriers to tape to prevent other people from entering.
- Wherever possible use a spray booth (not needed for minimal spray jobs such as on tiny areas on a car or motorbike or when it is impossible for example on a building).
- Use a mechanical exhaust ventilation system to capture over spray and solvent vapor. The method you use should have a particulate filtration mechanism and comply with AS1482 Electrical Equipment for Explosive Atmosphere.
- Use fresh air and electric fans to help dispel contaminated air.
- If you are dry sanding use dust extraction equipment
2 Reducing Dust
It is essential to always keep dust to a minimum in the work place as it can contain crystalline silica which can lead to lung cancer.
- Always wear respirator equipment and put it on before you start work.
- Make sure the workplace is well ventilated – open doors and windows and use a dust extraction system.
- If possible have a separate area such as a separate room for dust creating jobs.
- Use a vacuum cleaner to clean up dust regularly – don’t let it accumulate.
- If it is paint dust, don’t use a vacuum cleaner (this is a fire risk) but dampen the dust and then sweep up.
3 Control of Two Pack Paint & Varnish Systems
These two pack systems are excellent as they give a hard resistant finish, but they do need careful use as the chemicals they contain causes asthma in a significant number of people exposed to them. The varnish has the added hazard of being inflammable. The most important consideration though is personal protection as both products are harmful when inhaled and can be an irritant to eyes and skin.
- Ensure that you are wearing suitable protective clothing for eyes and skin.
- Ensure that you know what to do should you get paint/varnish in your eyes or on your skin.
- Always use a respiratory system to protect the lungs.
- Work in a spray booth whenever possible and use a local exhaust extraction and filtration system.
4 The Management of Machinery & Equipment
Spray painting plant and equipment regularly check and clean such equipment as spray guns (according to their manufacturer’s guidelines) each time you have finished using them and store them carefully to prevent damage.Ways to control hazards.
- Create barriers to prevent people from accessing the area and display signs explaining why. Also, display signs showing emergency and First Aid procedures.
- Ensure that the working area is kept well ventilated.
- Use pneumatic sanders rather than electric ones.
Spray painting booths.
- Should always be used whenever possible and should be kept in excellent condition and comply with safety regulations.
- Booths should be fitted with an exhaust capture and filtration system, and this must promote sufficient air flow and should be checked before work begins.
Careful consideration musty be given to their LPG gas cylinders or fuel tanks and these need to be removed before the vehicle is put in a spray booth or bake oven. If the car is being put in a bake oven, it is essential that the temperature used is low enough so that it is not possible for fuel vapor to be released into the bake oven.
Any air being recycled must be diluted with plenty of fresh air to prevent a build-up of explosive gas.
Vehicle hoists, jacks and frame straighteners.
These must only be used by people who know how to use them and what safety guidelines to implement as otherwise, they can cause serious injury.
5 Working at Height
Whether you rarely work at height or it is a regular occurrence, it is essential to take extra care as one mistake can lead to tragedy…..injury or death.People regularly die from accidents involving height so whether you are the employer or employee it is essential that you think about the risks involved, use the right protective equipment and most importantly, get the right training and work procedures in place…
- Use rails whenever possible and ensure that all employees stay within the rails at all times
- Select the correct PFAS. Personal Fall Arrest Systems are essential but they need to be the right kit for the job, the right quality and to fit the person well. They also need to be checked before each day’s work to ensure that they are not damaged or faulty in any way. When buying a harness, check the size is going to be correct and that the harness is of top quality (price is usually an indicator). Most importantly, check that the harness is suitable for the work being done especially if carrying weights at heights etc. and that it will be comfortable to wear. The correct lanyard must be bought for each individual – for their individual height – and decide whether a deceleration device or retractable style is better for the job to be done.
- Ensure that harnesses are checked before each day’s work. May sure employees know what problems to look for in their harness – get them well trained about maintenance of their harness and get it checked regularly by an independent person who really is competent at doing this. Harnesses must be used by one person only and it must be the correct harness for them. Remember … a thorough safety check of a harness could save a life.
- Make sure that fall distance is understood. Full protection is only useful if it engages at the right time and it is crucial that this is carefully calculated – the working height, the weight of the person and the time it takes for the deceleration device to kick in must all be made into a count.
- Ensure the selection of good anchor points. Only too often the chosen anchor points would not be adequate should a worker fall. It is essential that the anchor point not only can support the person’s weight but a weight of 5,000 lbs is the official guideline.
- Use the correct scaffolding, lifts and ladders. Whilst scaffolding with rails is a good choice, it cannot always be used but careful evaluation of what is best for the particular job must be made to minimize risks.
- Make sure that ladders are used properly. Ladders are really dangerous if not used properly and lead to many injuries. Make sure that everyone has had adequate training on the safe use of ladders including 4: 1 ration and three points of contact.
- Know your roofing regulations: Unfortunately, they are misunderstood by many roofers and lead to many preventable accidents. Ensure that the correct use of dedicated monitors and warning lines are in place at all times and that roofers have had good training before they begin work.
- The proper use of lifts; Everyone using a boom lift must be properly protected at all times and should always be ‘tied off’ and secured to an engineer anchor point with a suitable lanyard, and they should still work with both feet firmly on the platform.
- Above all else good training is essential! Training should be ongoing too and the correct training for the job to be done. It is essential that those working at height do not leave anything to chance and that they know that good preparation and working procedures will ensure they work at heights safely.
I am a licensed architect who is passionate about all things home improvement industries, I have been doing DIY painting projects and have developed lots of experience around home improvement over the 10 years.