Paint Shop Safety
Painting operations using flammable and combustible materials shall be constructed and operated in compliance with the State Fire Marshal and NFPA 33 code requirements. Commonly used paints often contain toxic substances, such as lead or benzol and may be harmful if inhaled. Supervisors must rigidly enforce such standards. Contact EH&S for assistance in the design and operation of paint shops. At a minimum, the following precautions should be observed:
A. Good Housekeeping:
This is essential to safe operations in paint shops. Paint rooms and equipment should be kept clean and stored in an orderly manner.
B. Proper Locations:
Paint shops should ordinarily be located in separate buildings from other activities or in specially constructed, fire resistant rooms.
C. Using Spray Booths:
Spray booths should be used in all paint shops to localize the fire and explosion hazards. The walls of these booths should be made of a fireresistant material that can be easily and frequently cleaned. Walls and floors of spray booths may be covered with paper to protect them from paint deposits. This paper should be removed and destroyed when contaminated. Protective paper wall coatings should not be used for dry or dusty painting operations.
D. Providing Adequate Ventilation:
Forced air ventilation should be provided in all paint spray booths to prevent the accumulation of flammable and potentially harmful vapors. The booth should have an exhaust system with a linear velocity across the face of the booth of 100 feet per minute (fpm) and the following basic rules should be observed:
- Personnel should always spray paint toward the exhaust portal to minimize the accumulation of harmful mists in the booth. Spray guns should never be pointed toward other personnel.
- Adequate exhaust ventilation should be provided in booths when hand spray painting is being accomplished. When forced ventilation is impractical, such as during minor touch up painting, personnel shall wear approved respirators.
E. Eliminating Fire Hazards:
All sources of ignition should be removed from paint shops. Electrical equipment and fixtures should be explosion-proof and effectively grounded at all times. Exhaust fans should be made of nonferrous metal and the air ducts should be bonded and grounded. Smoking should not be permitted in the paint shop. In addition, the following should be observed:
- All metal and fabric covered objects that could produce static charges should be effectively grounded or bonded before spray painting is authorized.
- Suitable fire extinguishers should be provided at all painting and paint removing locations. When practical, overhead sprinkler systems should be installed in permanent paint shops.
- Rags, waste and other materials saturated with paint should be disposed of in covered metal cans. Waste cans should be emptied daily.
F. Taking Personal Health Safeguards:
Detailed instructions for safeguarding painting activities should be developed and observed by all paint shop workers. The following are basic rules:
- To avoid ingesting paint, shop personnel should wash thoroughly before eating and wear single use, disposable respirators when spray painting.
- Food should not be brought into or eaten in paint shops.
- Protective clothing should be worn by paint shop personnel during painting operations to prevent work clothes from becoming saturated with harmful paint deposits. When protective clothing is not being worn, it should be stored in ventilated metal lockers conveniently located outside the painting areas.
G. Storing Painting Materials Safely:
Paint storage should be isolated from the spray booths. Containers of no more than five-gallon capacity should be used for storing paints. The paint materials should be stored in approved fire rated metal cabinets when not in use.
- Combustible paints should be mixed in a fire-resistant mixing room. This room should be provided with a floor drain connected to a separator to wash down spills quickly and effectively. These paints should not be stored in spray booths. Storage containers must be grounded when pouring from/into metal containers.
- Actions relating to the use, storage and mixing of water-base latex paints are exempt from the above requirements.
- Accumulation of flammable or toxic paint wastes (i.e. oil based paint, mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, etc.) must be within a designated satellite area. Container must be labeled, grounded and disposed of before 55 gallons are accumulated.
H. Supervising Use of Pressure Equipment:
The use of compressed air for spraying operations should be closely supervised and the equipment properly used. The following precautions outline safe use conditions:
- A relief valve should be installed in the main air tank and a pressure reducing regulator installed in the air line between the compressor and the paint container.
- A pressure gauge should be placed between the reducing regulator and the paint container.
- All equipment should be inspected before use. Particular attention should be given to pressure reducing regulators to make certain they are functioning properly.
- Spray equipment should be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each use.
- Steps should be taken to prevent paint from drying on pressure valves.
- Pressure gauges should be closely observed for positive indication that the regulator is working properly.
- Only enough pressure should be placed on spray equipment to do the job effectively. The use of minimum pressure should prevent accumulation of hazardous mists.
- Gravity feed tanks should not exceed a capacity of 10 gallons. Tanks should be tightly covered with non-combustible lids, equipped with screened vents. Suspended gravity feed tanks should be held by strong wire cables.
- Electrically heated paint pressure pots should be periodically inspected by qualified personnel to ensure that thermostatic controls are within permitted heat ranges. Pots should not be tipped or otherwise positioned to expose the heating element at any
I. Removing Paint Safely:
The same safety precautions covering painting should apply to paint removing. Flammable and toxic solvents may be used which require adequate ventilation to keep vapors from accumulating.