Dust Inhalation To Dermatitis: Staying Safe When Painting

Dust Inhalation To Dermatitis: Staying Safe When Painting Feature Image

Posted on 23rd Jan, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham

Painting is one of the most common and universal DIY tasks – whether you’re a tradesman, homeowner or tenant, painting is likely something you’ll have to do at some point. And while it may sound like a simple job, it can actually present a surprising number of hazards.

Preparing The Room

Preparing to paint a room

Solvent-based paints can provide significant risks to health in a number of ways, and it’s important not to proceed until you’re protected against absolutely every one. Foremost amongst your equipment should be goggles and a face mask, such as a solvent-respirator or an anti-dust mask. These latter two especially prevent against dust inhalation when sanding a surface, and the asthma-inducing properties of many solvents. Tough hand protection is also a must, given that the majority of harmful substances are frequently absorbed through skin on the hands. Therefore you’ll need cloth or leather gloves for sanding and scraping, impermeable gloves for water-based paint and solvent-resistant chemical gloves for handling solvents.

Given the amount of protection required to fully protect against solvent paints, it’s often a good idea to at least consider the alternative of water-based paints, which are increasingly used and offer excellent performance benefits. Whatever the case, you’ll need to ensure good ventilation through the room to avoid the dangers of paint mists, and install a fan or similar measures where there is no through draught. Also remove any potential sources of ignition (solvents are highly flammable) and provide firefighting equipment and eyewash facilities just in case. Ensure that the area is closed off to any unqualified foot traffic, either by locking doors or putting up signs, and provide adequate facilities for workers to clean themselves both before and after the job.

The Job Begins

Getting started on the job

Once you begin the actual job of painting, you’ll still want to adhere to those golden rules of protecting your lungs, skin and the people around you. Make sure the paint containers aren’t damaged, and follow any specific safety procedures they advise. Make sure your room is equipped with several spill clean-up kits or other measures, and deal any spills immediately: not only do they present threats in terms of the paint itself, but also a slipping hazard to any unwary people who come across them.

Always work upwind of freshly painted surfaces – again to avoid the dangers of paint mists, as reactive products like epoxy can induce permanent cases of asthma. Wash your hands frequently, especially when handling solvents, even if you’re wearing gloves – it’s far better to be safe than sorry. Be wary of dust, animal waste and other hazards when painting, as the unfortunate truth is that they can turn up in the most unlikely to places. While you’re working, segregate any incompatible materials, and do likewise with your waste and unwanted brushes. When applicable, decontaminate your brushes and other waste products so they don’t pose a danger to someone else when you throw them away.

Stay Alert, Stay Wary, Stay Safe

It’s next to impossible to outline all the safety measures and procedures you should put in place when painting, so we’ve taken the opportunity to highlight the main ones, as well as providing short explanations of why they pose such threats to human health. However, as long as you adhere to these three main principles, you can rarely go wrong.

If you’re directing a team of painters, why not check out our previous post on keeping your team safe on-site, or book one of our training courses today!

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