OSHA Issues Spray Painting Hazards Pamphlet
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently released a new fact sheet on the hazards associated with spray painting in shipyards, with information on engineering controls and other measures that can help employers protect workers.
Spray painting in a shipyard environment presents some hazards: exposure to chemical hazards and toxic substances, fires and explosions from flammable paints and coatings, and others. Often, work is done within confined spaces. If not ventilated properly, this can cause sickness and death for workers. According to OSHA, employers must take steps to protect the safety of employees.
Even when shipyard employers take equipment-related precautions, such as using low-flow airless spray nozzles to limit vapors released into the air from the spray nozzle, they must still take steps to help employees avoid hazards, the fact sheet notes. Part of this process is ensuring that chemical labels and safety data sheets are made available, as well as providing the necessary protection training.
Spray painting often releases flammable vapors into the atmosphere, which increases the chance of a fire or an explosion. According to OSHA, “A spark from electrical equipment or static discharge can be enough to ignite volatile vapors.”
Employers should protect workers by supplying personal protective equipment (PPE), but the agency stresses that engineering controls should be evaluated and implemented, rather than an employer relying simply on PPE.
Ventilation, the new publication explains, is an example of an engineering control that can prevent exposure to hazardous atmospheric conditions. During spray painting, someone who is shipyard competent must “conduct frequent tests to verify that solvent vapors are at a concentration below 10 percent of the lower explosive limit (LEL).”
If the flashpoint for paints used is below 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the solvent concentration of vapors reaches or exceeds 10 percent of the LEL, employers must immediately cease operations and evacuate workers. Employers must also use exhaust ventilation and potential ignition sources to keep concentrations of flammable vapors below 10 percent of the LEL.
To ensure safety, OSHA notes in the publication, employers must also provide PPE, such as airline respirators with an auxiliary self-contained air supply for emergencies. Other appropriate PPE includes gloves, goggles, protective clothing and face shields.
To read and download the pamphlet, click here.