Whether you’re a painter, carpenter, or electrician, it is important to remember and understand that any trade job can come with certain risks. As a painter, you know you need to be prepared for every job to ensure maximum efficiency and optimal results. Safety gear is important to prevent illness and injury and ensure overall health and safety.
As an employer, maintaining a safe work atmosphere is their moral duty and responsibility. They must look after the protection of their employees so that the latter can perform their jobs safely and efficiently. Using and wearing safety gear is a requirement, whether the painters work on or above the ground. Any responsible paint service company must make sure that the paint crew wears complete and proper safety gear during work hours.
Understanding the risks in paint jobs
One may think painting is an easy way to refresh and update a space. It is true that painting is less labor-intensive and more cost-effective compared to remodeling, but it doesn’t mean it’s a totally risk-free endeavor.
The truth about painting is that one may get seriously sick or injured if the right precautions are not taken. There are several hazards that can cause bodily harm to the painter, including:
- Prolonged standing
- Slips and falls
- Working at heights
- Slips from dripped or splattered paint on the floor
- Falling from ladders, scaffolding, lifts, and other high places
- Exposure to chemicals and sanding dust
- Working in confined spaces
- Improper ventilation
- Exposure to heat and cold
- Dropped objects
- Lifting heavy or awkward objects
- Repetitive strain injury
- Electrical hazards
- Injury from certain tools and equipment
Not taking adequate safety measures can lead to long-term health implications for the workers.
The Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act in 1970 ensures and enforces safe workplace conditions and standards. This law establishes workplace standards to protect workers from hazards that compromise their health.
With only a few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment when it is used to comply with OSHA standards. They typically include hard hats, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, safety glasses, welding helmets and goggles, face shields, chemical protective equipment, and fall protection equipment.
If the employer doesn’t provide employees with the necessary PPEs, the employees may file a complaint with OSHA. If the employer violates OSHA regulations for PPEs, they face sanctions. Officials may impose a fine and require changes in practices.
In addition, the workers may also demand compensation from their employers if the latter fails to provide them with proper working conditions, including adequate ventilation or air conditioning, which is essential for the dissipation of paint fumes. If employers fail to provide their workers with safe-as-possible working conditions and the proper PPEs, there’s a greater chance that the workers will get sick or injured.
Not providing the proper safety equipment and protection can also lead to professional implications. According to OSHA, an estimated 40% of all employees in the United States get injured at work every year. Non-compliance with health and safety regulations can lead to a greater increase in workplace injury and, in turn, frequent absences and staff turnover.
In addition to professional implications, non-compliance with occupational health and safety regulations can lead to adverse legal consequences.
OSHA is a law that regulates the health and safety of American workers. This law requires companies to provide their employees with a safe workplace and the right protection when necessary to protect their health and safety. OSHA states that employers must provide their employees with proper PPEs when there is a risk or danger to their health and safety during the job.
In several cases, workers get sick or injured on the job due to poor working conditions, poorly designed equipment, or defective. These injuries and illnesses were easily preventable had the employer taken safety precautions.
For example, if you are a painter who gets injured while wearing PPE at work, it can be difficult for you to prove that your injury or sickness was caused by your employer’s negligence. But if you are not given the proper safety gear and then you get injured or sick on the job, it becomes a lot easier for your attorney to argue that your employer should have provided you with safe working conditions and/or proper protection from harm.
Of course, not complying with industry health and safety guidelines is a criminal offense. An employer can face serious legal consequences if they neglect their workers’ safety by not providing them protection. In fact, OSHA may issue citations or fines if the workers get seriously sick or injured because they weren’t provided the proper protection. This is why employers should provide their workers with all the PPEs they need, especially if they work on dangerous projects or in hazardous environments.
Essential safety gear for painting contractors
House and commercial painting often involves paint fumes, paint and sanding dust, paint drips and spills, and working at heights.
Painting is considered a high-risk occupation, so painters should be provided with safety equipment, particularly PPEs, depending on the project, working conditions, and environment. PPEs are mostly wearable items that effectively keep paint fumes out of the wearer’s breathing zone, prevent the painter from falling, protect the painter should a fall occur, etc.
As in all painting and construction works and sites, wearing safety gear is obligatory and non-negotiable. Whether they’re working on ground level or above ground level, a painter should wear any of the following protection listed below:
Basic and essential PPEs:
- Overalls – Overalls have long sleeves and legs to protect the arms and legs from paint drips and sanding dust, and a hood to protect the head from paint drips and splatters.
- Respirator – A painting respirator is worn over the mouth and nose to prevent paint fumes, sanding dust, and other contaminants from getting into the wearer’s breathing zone. The respirator should fit tightly around the wearer’s face so that there’s no chance for contaminants and dust to get through the gaps in the mask.
- Goggles – A pair of goggles protect the wearer’s eye from splatters, vapors from chemicals, and sanding dust while painting. Some goggles have tinted lenses to help block the sun’s ultraviolet rays when working outdoors or glare when working under bright lights.
- Gloves – A good pair of gloves should be worn on both hands to protect them from paints, primers, thinners, and cleaning products that contain harsh chemicals that can cause rashes, severe skin allergies, and scratches and cuts. They should snugly fit around the fingers, palms, wrists, and knuckles so that nothing gets into them. Some gloves are disposable, while others are reusable and can be washed properly after use.
- Apron – An apron can protect the wearer from drips, splatters, splashes, spills, and smudges by protecting the clothes underneath during painting.
- Shoe covers – Disposable shoe covers protect the wearer’s footwear and any exposed skin that could become irritated by contact with paint, sanding dust, cleaning chemicals, thinners, etc.
If there is spray painting involved, painters should be protected by wearing the following PPE:
- Eye protection conforms to American National Standards Institute (ANSI) guidelines, including a shield and/or a pair of goggles (if necessary).
- Respiratory protection conforms to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, including the N95 filtering facepiece respirator.
- Protective clothing such as overalls, long-sleeved shirts, rubber gloves, and footwear.
Fall protection equipment
- Hard hat – A hard hat protects the wearer’s head in the event of a possible impact caused by a falling object or collision during a fall.
- Harnesses and carabiners – A safety harness refers to a system of restraints that prevents the wearer from injurious or fatal falls. The harness is usually attached to a stable and stationary object (such as a railing) by way of carabiners, which are coupling links with a safety closure. These safety gear items ensure that the wearer will move freely without falling to the ground in case he slips.
- Safety vest or jacket – Painters working at heights should wear a reflective safety vest or jacket for visibility and protection from potential hazards. Wearing safety vests allows the worker to be seen and alert other workers that someone is present, especially in low-visibility conditions.
- Lifelines and anchors – Painters working above ground should be tethered to anchors or lifelines to ensure that they can move freely but won’t fall if they slip or trip. Lifelines and anchors include all fall arrest and restraint systems that protect people working above ground instead of collective fall protection systems.
Hardworking employees need – and deserve – the best hearing protection, especially if they’re exposed to high-frequency noise on a regular basis. Painters who work near or around noise hazards – such as noise coming from heavy construction equipment – are at risk of losing their hearing, either temporarily or permanently.
It may sound far-fetched, but some chemicals can even affect a person’s sense of hearing. Exposure to certain chemicals, known as ototoxicants, can lead to hearing loss. Industries that use potential ototoxicants include manufacturing, mining, construction, agriculture, utilities, and painting.
In painting, ototoxicants can be found in many paints and other coating products, thinners, degreasers, adhesive substances, etc.
OSHA requires employers to provide hearing protectors to all their employees who are exposed to an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 decibels or greater, free of charge. Hearing protectors shall be replaced as needed.
To protect the painters from high-frequency noise, employers should provide them with the adequate necessary hearing protection, preferably earmuffs.
To prevent the painters from inhaling or coming in direct contact with ototoxic chemicals while working with them, they should wear the basic PPEs listed earlier: overalls, gloves, goggles, and respirators.
Safety gear maintenance and care
Care and maintenance of PPEs are essential. Therefore, it is necessary to keep them in good working condition and continue providing safety for the workers.
- Make sure to inspect PPEs before and after each use.
- Take care of PPEs at all times.
- Always clean and sanitize PPE for safer use.
- If the PPE are disposable (such as gloves and shoe covers), discard them immediately after use.
- Don’t share used PPE, as this practice can lead to high levels of accidental contamination.
- Don’t reuse disposable PPE, either. When the label says “disposable,” you must throw the items away after use.
- Repair or replace damaged PPE.
- After using PPE, store it in a clean and dry place, free from sunlight, moisture, and contaminants.
Training and Awareness
Painters work in various environments, from homes to commercial buildings to industrial facilities, where they face a set of various hazards. They should undergo proper health and safety training and awareness to prepare them for any eventuality, protect themselves, and minimize risks.
Many companies and industries require OSHA training. The OSHA Outreach Training Program provides training designed for workers, including professional painters. This program trains workers by emphasizing identification, avoidance, abatement, and prevention of workplace hazards, as well as OSHA’s standards.
Workers will benefit from the OSHA Outreach Training Program through the following ways:
- Promotion of safety culture through peer training.
- Training is designed as participatory by using hands-on activities.
- Trainers can adapt their training topics to cater to the specific needs of their audience.
- Outreach training consists of hazard recognition, avoidance, prevention, and control, as well as employer’s responsibilities, workers’ rights, how to file a complaint, etc.
- Emphasis on the value of safety and health to workers, including young workers.
- Outreach training is available in languages other than English.
OSHA-certified painting contractors have undergone rigorous training to enhance their skill set and acquire a broader understanding of workplace safety practices. Through this program, the painters have acquired greater expertise that allows them to implement the correct practices, use proper equipment, and employ a safe work approach throughout the painting process.
Regardless of your industry, exterior painting in San Ramon, workplace safety is essential. Wearing and using safety gear and PPEs is not an option but a requirement. Any responsible paint service company always ensures that its paint crew uses the proper safety equipment on the job.
As commercial painting is prone to various hazards, painters should undergo rigorous safety training programs. The primary goal of a safety training program is to reduce the risk of illness, injury, or fatality to workers. Professional painters who wish to enhance their knowledge of workplace safety should work with OSHA trainers to obtain OSHA safety certification, which is considered the most relevant to their company, industry, and other requirements.
The proper use of PPE and compliance with industry safety standards are still the best and most reliable solutions to reduce risk among employers and their paint crew, protect assets, and establish a safe working environment.