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Staying safe in the spray painting industry

27 Mar 2020 | TIPS & ADVICE


Do you worry about the safety of your employees in the workplace? Do you think about what potential health problems not following WHS regulations may cause?

The workplace can be a very dangerous place for some, if the correct measures are not put in place to ensure workers' safety. It is vital, not only for the employees suffering ailments due to misuse of equipment and chemicals and lack of protective equipment, but also for the employer who may be liable for misconduct in not following workplace regulations.

So who's responsibility is it to ensure workplace safety?

Third Parties

Designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant or substances used in spray painting activities must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the plant or substance is without risks to health and safety. This duty includes carrying out testing and analysis as well as providing specific information about the plant or substance. 

Company Directors

Officers and Company Directors have a duty to exercise due diligence to ensure that the business or undertaking complies with the WHS Act and Regulations.

This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure that the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks that arise from spray painting.

Workers

Workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons.

Workers must comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health and safety at the workplace. If personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided by the person conducting the business or undertaking, the worker must use it in accordance with the information, instruction and training provided.



How do you identify risks and hazards?

Potential risks and workplace hazards can be identified in a few ways, including:

  • Conducting a walk through assessment of the workplace observing the work and talking to workers about how work is carried out
  • Inspecting the materials and equipment that will be used during the spray painting process
  • Reading product labels, safety data sheets (SDS) and manufacturer’s instruction manuals
  • Talking to manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations and health and safety specialists, and
  • Reviewing incident reports.


Hazard
Potential harmExamples
Hazardous chemicals

Dermatitis, respiratory illnesses and cancers

Some hazardous chemicals are also fire and explosion risks 

Paints, solvents, adhesives, resins, rust removers, rust converters, lacquers and degreasers
Fire and explosion
Serious burns and death, exposure to projectiles and damage to property

Flammable paints and solvents in contact with an ignition source

Combustible dusts used in powder coating

Confined spaces
Exposure to hazardous chemicals, unsafe oxygen levels, potential for fire, explosion and engulfment
Spraying inside the cavity of vehicles, ships, aircraft or tanks
Machinery and equipment

Injection injuries, being caught by moving parts of machinery can cause fractures, bruises, lacerations, dislocations, permanent injuries or death

Spray booths, sanding, grinding equipment, airless spray equipment, compressed air
Working at height
Falling objects, falls, slips and trips of people can cause fractures, bruises, lacerations, dislocations, concussion, permanent injuries or death
Spray painting trucks, ships, aeroplanes or bridges
Manual tasksOverexertion, sustained awkward postures or repetitive movement can cause muscular strain
Repetitive spraying action, lifting and pushing objects into place 
Electricity or static electricity

Exposure to electricity can cause shock, burns or death from electric shock

Electricity and static electricity are also sources of ignition 

The use of electrical equipment, wiring of equipment and electrostatic charges
Heat or high humidity
Exposure to heat or high humidity can cause burns, heat stroke and fatigue
Wearing impervious PPE or working outdoors or in a poorly ventilated workplace
Noise 
Exposure to loud noise can cause permanent damage to hearing 
Noise from pumps, compressors and spray booths


How do you control the risks?

These hazardous risks can be controlled by the use of effective spray equipment, personal protective equipment, proper training and reviewing of spray techniques. Major concerns in this industry are ventilation, exposure, maintaining of equipment and worker education.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is very important in the workplace. 


PPE typeHazardsRecommendation
Eyes, face and head protection
Exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Workers should have their eyes, face and head protected whenever spray painting.
  • Guidance is provided in AS/NZS 1336: Recommended practices for occupational eye protection.
Hearing protection (e.g. ear muffs and ear plugs)
Hearing loss
  •  If workers are still exposed to noise levels in excess of the exposure standard after higher order control measures have been implemented, ear plugs, ear canal caps and ear muffs or combinations may be required.
  • Guidance is provided in AS/NZS 1270: Acoustics - Hearing protectors and AS/NZS 1269.3: Occupational noise management – Hearing protector program.
Gloves and clothing
Exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Gloves and clothing should protect exposed skin.
  • Guidance is provided in AS/NZS 2161: (series)
  • Occupational protective gloves and AS/NZS ISO 13994: Clothing for protection against chemicals

- Determination of the resistance of protective clothing materials to penetration by liquids under pressure.

Foot protection (e.g. boots and shoes)
Trips, slips and exposure to hazardous chemicals
  • Foot protection should be non-slip and be heat and fire resistant.
  • Guidance is provided in AS/NZS 2210: Occupational protective footwear (series).
Respiratory protective devices (e.g. dust masks, half face respirators and air supplied respirators)
Dusts, aerosols, vapours, gases and oxygen depleted atmospheres
  • Workers carrying out spray painting with two part epoxy or polyurethane paint, or some catalytic acrylic paints should be provided with either a full face piece supplied air respirator or half face piece supplied air respirator.
  • Respirators should be fitted for each person individually. The tightness of all connections and the condition of the face piece, headbands and valves should be checked before each use. Air supplied respirators may be required in some situations, for example confined spaces. Select air supplied respirators that generate less noise so the worker can hear warning signals and will not become easily tangled or caught on other objects.
Respiratory protective devices (e.g. dust masks, half face respirators and air supplied respirators)
Dusts, aerosols, vapours, gases and oxygen depleted atmospheres
  • Respirators should closely fit the wearer to provide its designed protection, it is essential that an adequate face seal is achieved. They should be cleaned and disinfected with a broadspectrum disinfectant in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions after each use. They should also be inspected for damage before and after each use. Filters should be changed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and stored to prevent contaminations, damage and deterioration. Airline filters should be changed as required

    For further information refer to AS/NZS 1715: Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment and AS/NZS 1716: Respiratory protective devices.




Protective PPE needed for different coating types:


Spraying typePPE needed
Two-pack polyurethane paint
  • Air-supplied respirator
  • Full length overalls with hood
  • Appropriate chemically resistant gloves
  • Eye protection
Two-pack epoxy & Catalysed acrylic

The respiratory protective equipment required will depend on the toxicity of the paint and the conditions under which the paints are applied. When selecting respirators, the following points should be considered:

  • Exposure standards for the various paint components. Exposure standards have not been established for some of the hazardous components of these paints, for example curing agents
  • The information provided in the manufacturer’s SDS
  • Ventilation in the area where the paint is to be applied
  • The level and duration of exposure, and
  • The protection factor of the respirator.

No person should use two part epoxy paint or two part catalysed acrylic paint without first considering the information provided in the SDS for these paints.

  • Respiratory protection that maintains exposures below the exposure standard. Where there is no exposure standard, exposures should be kept as low as reasonably achievable. Half face respirators with combined particulate/organic vapour cartridges may be used in well ventilated areas. Higher protection factors, for example full face or powered air purifying respirators, will be required where ventilation is not adequate. When spraying in poorly ventilated or enclosed areas, particular care should be taken to ensure that appropriate PPE is worn in accordance with the recommendations contained in the manufacturer’s SDS
  • Full length overalls, appropriate chemically resistant gloves and eye protection.
Water based paint
  • A respirator with a combined vapour/particulate filter. Where spraying is carried out in poorly ventilated conditions other types of respirators should be selected as described for two part epoxy paints above, and
  • Full length overalls with hood, appropriate chemically resistant gloves and eye protection (appropriate for mists/vapours).
Spray painting in the open environment

When spraying two part polyurethane paint and two part epoxy paint in the open environment the requirements for respiratory protection are the same as two part polyurethane paint and two part epoxy paint above, respectively. For other paints a respirator with a combined vapour/particulate filter should be worn where the exposure standard is likely to be exceeded.

The sprayer should also wear full length overalls, appropriate chemically resistant gloves and eye protection.


Other hazards and control measures that should be looked into include: fire and explosions, electrical risks, manual tasks, confined spaces, heat, noise and injection injury.
Always ensure the safety of your workers. Instilling the right awareness and values in workers when it comes to these serious issues is paramount above all else.

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