Lesson 1-1    GENERAL HAZARDS

1-1.  Hazards

Every painting assignment exposes your maintenance personnel to conditions and situations that represent actual or potential danger to themselves and to others in the area. A potential hazard is always present through the frequent use of toxic and flammable materials, pressurized equipment, ladders, scaffolds, and rigging. Hazards may also be inherent in the very nature of the environment or caused through the ignorance or carelessness of operators. It is extremely important that you are aware of all potential hazards, since continuous and automatic precautionary measures will minimize the problem and improve both the efficiency and the morale of your painting crew.

     a.  Paint Materials. Most paint materials are hazardous to some degree. All paints, except water-based paints, are flammable; many are toxic; and others can irritate the skin. If simple precautions are followed by personnel, however, most paints are quite safe.

     b.  Surface-Preparation Materials. Painting often requires the use of solvent, acid, or alkali cleaners for surface preparation. All of these will harm your skin unless you use them with care. Paint removers are also very irritating to the skin. The use of high-pressure abrasives or water-blasting methods may expose you to hazards. Pressures as low as 10 to 15 pounds per square inch have been known to cause serious injuries. In addition, carelessness during the use of abrasive-blasting operations may result in lung disease after continued exposure. Steam-cleaning procedures employ high heat and pressure; both are very hazardous to the operator and personnel nearby if you do not follow safety procedures and handle the equipment properly.

     c.  Equipment. Ladders, scaffolds, and rigging must be used by painters for areas that are not readily accessible from the floor or ground. Pressure equipment is used to prepare surfaces and to apply paint. All of this equipment can be extremely hazardous if you handle it carelessly. Your actual operation time of this equipment may be less than the time required to prepare it for use; nevertheless, you should not omit precautions on the basis that risk decreases in proportion to the time operated.

     d.  Environment. Painting conditions will vary from job to job. One obviously hazardous location is the interior of a tank. However, painting the interior of a small room or closet may be more hazardous, since there is often no special precautions taken and inadequate ventilation may be provided. Furthermore, your painting personnel may encounter other hazards that exist in the area in which they are working in addition to the hazards inherent in the painting operation. For example, slippery floors or obstacles located on the floor may cause falls. Electrical or mechanical equipment may produce shocks or other serious injuries. Uninsulated steam lines or hot pipes may cause severe burns or too rapid evaporation of solvent, thus creating a toxic hazard.

     e.  Painting Crew. A potential threat to the safety of your crew and others in the painting area is painting personnel who lack training, experience, or knowledge of the hazards involved. An element of risk is present even when well-trained workers follow all of the prescribed safety procedures. Taking proper precautions will reduce this risk to a minimum, but no safeguard can guarantee protection against ignorance. Careless performance by even a trained painter will also increase hazards tremendously. Deviating from established procedures by taking shortcuts will often produce unsafe working conditions. This practice may result in accidents with the consequential loss of time and materials, and of greatest concern, human suffering.

     f.  Degree of Hazard. The risks involved vary from job to job. Painting the interior of a home with water-based paints, for example, is much less hazardous than painting a water tank 100 feet above the ground. You, as the foreman, must be responsible for taking the special precautions necessary, designating the equipment required, and advising your crew of the specific hazards for each job. Though hazards in jobs may vary in degrees, you should never forget that they do exist in every job. You and your painting personnel increase the odds that accidents will occur when you ignore hazards in any job. Regardless of the degree of hazard that may be present, relaxation of precautions in one job will inevitably lead to carelessness in all jobs. The careless habits that are formed will eventually result in an unnecessary increase in the accident rate.

1-2.  Safety Measures

You must have a continual enforced safety program due to the potential hazards present in all painting operations. Adequate safety procedures will provide protection against the three major types of hazards; namely, accidents, fire, and those to health. All personnel must be thoroughly familiar with safety rules. Each worker is responsible for adhering to all established precautionary programs for his own protection as well as that of others. The practice of disregarding safety measures will increase potential dangers and the odds that an accident will occur.

     a.  General Health. All of your personnel should be in good health. Painters who are sensitive to skin-irritating materials should only work with non-sensitive paint materials, such as water-based paints. Any worker sensitive to heights should not work on ladders, scaffolds, or rigging. Personnel who have an improper attitude toward safety should not be allowed in painting crews.

     b.  Environment. Always study the working environment before you send painters into any work area. Look for hazards, such as poor ventilation and noxious fumes. Before you allow a painter to enter such an area, you must ensure that he is protected by devices that will allow him to work in safety. If ventilation is required, then provide outside air at a minimum rate of 15 cubic feet of air per minute per person or 1 1/2 changes per hour, whichever is greater. Otherwise, provide respiratory protective equipment. If exhaust systems are used, such as in a tank, the system must take suction from the bottom of the tank or a similar area in which the work is being done. Never allow a painter to work alone in a hazardous area. The discharge from exhaust systems must be arranged so that contaminated air will not create a health hazard in surrounding areas. Temperatures should be kept at 65 to 75 degrees () Fahrenheit (F), if possible.

     c.  Forms of Protection. Common forms of protection are respiratory devices, safety helmets, eye protection, protective clothing, and the use of a buddy system.

         (1)  Respiratory protection. Your personnel must wear the proper type of face mask in hazardous areas. All respirators must be devices approved by the US Bureau of Mines. The most important types of respirators are as follows:

              (a)  Dispersoid-filter respirators. The respirators (Figure 1-1) are worn for protection against dusts that are present when sanding. The respirators contain filters only.

Figure 1-1.  Dispersoid-filter respirator

            (b)  Chemical-cartridge respirators. The respirators (Figure 1-2) are used for protection against fumes and solvent vapors. The respirators contain activated-carbon cartridges that absorb fumes or vapors.

Figure 1-2. Chemical-cartridge respirator

The life or health of your workers may depend on the availability and proper functioning of respiratory equipment. Clean respirators immediately after use, and maintain and store them in clean, dry compartments. Inspect filters, cartridges, and rubber parts before each use and at regular intervals for any signs of deterioration. Always replace any suspect filter or cartridge immediately.

         (2)  Safety helmets. Abrasive-blasting helmets (Figure 1-3) are used when you are blast-cleaning surfaces that will be painted.

Figure 1-3. Abrasive-blasting helmet

         (3)  Eye protection. Protect eyes by wearing safety goggles (Figure 1-4) in areas where there is any possibility of dust, fumes, or solvents touching the eyes as may occur when blasting, sanding, or spraying. Keep eye-protection items clean and readily available. They should fit well, contain lenses of unbreakable glass or plastic, and allow adequate peripheral as well as straight-ahead vision.

Figure 1-4. Safety goggles

         (4)  Protective clothing. The following safety rules apply to protective clothing. You should:

         (5)  Buddy system. Personnel should never work alone in hazardous areas. Assign at least two men to such jobs, and ensure that each is visible to the other at all times during the painting operation. Then, if one should have an accident, the other can immediately come to his aid.

1-3.  Responsibilities of the Foreman

As the foreman, you should lay out the work and manage projects in such a manner as to produce the safest possible conditions. The safety of personnel is one of your prime responsibilities. To ensure safe working conditions, use a safety checklist (Figure 1-5) before a job gets underway.

Figure 1-5. Safety checklist

In addition to the safety checklist, adhere to the following safety rules: