Professional Painter’s Guide to Essential Safety Gear

Professional Painter’s Guide to Essential Safety GearPainting seems like straightforward work. But if you ask painting contractors doing house painting in Pleasanton, CA, or commercial painters, they will tell you otherwise. 

Painting is prone to many hazards (which you will see more in this article) that can lead to illnesses, injuries, or fatalities. That’s why commitment to safety is essential to protect the paint crew. When the paint crew is protected, they will be able to maintain and beautify your property efficiently.

Safety is both a duty and moral responsibility of every painting contractor. Any responsible painter doesn’t wish harm to anyone or cause damage to one’s assets or property. Thus, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide essential safety gear for the employees – it is not an option but a requirement, especially if painters work in high-risk environments. As a painting contractor, it is important that you and your crew are completely aware of the safety issues, observe safety at work, and use the type of essential protective gear on the job.

What are the common hazards in paint jobs?

As it is said before, painting seems like a straightforward work. But until they get to hold the paintbrush by themselves and step on the ladder, most people fail to realize that professional painters face various hazards and potential injuries. 

In fact, that may be one of the reasons why homeowners and business owners would rather consider handing off their painting projects to an experienced painting contractor than attempting the work themselves. Something as simple as paint drips or an improperly placed ladder could become a hazard on a painting job site.

Here are some of the risks associated with paint jobs:

  • Chemical exposure from paints, primers, thinners, cleaning products, etc., through inhalation or skin contact. 
  • Exposure to sanding dust can lead to occupational asthma, respiratory problems, and cancer
  • Exposure to mold and mildew
  • Trips and slips
  • Falls from heights
  • Falling objects
  • Exposure to mold and mildew
  • Extreme weather conditions, especially in exterior painting
  • High-frequency noise (which is common in commercial painting jobs)
  • Lead exposure (especially when working with older buildings)
  • Lack of proper ventilation
  • Confined spaces
  • Repetitive strain injury

Essential safety gear for painting contractors

Personal protective equipment PPE

The type and number of personal protective equipment (PPE) a painter requires varies depending on the specific job they are involved in. For example, if a painter sprays paint in a confined space lacking proper ventilation, that painter will need to wear more PPE than if the painter works in a spacious and well-ventilated space.

Here is the list of essential safety gear for residential and commercial painters

  • Protective clothing
    • Overalls – Overalls consist of a pair of trousers with a bib, holder, and loose straps to wear over the painter’s normal clothes. Unlike coveralls, overalls do not usually cover the arms and the head. Overalls are ideal for light paint jobs or for indoor painting where the painter isn’t exposed to sunlight and other harsh weather elements.
    • Coveralls – 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.
    • Apron – An apron protects the wearer’s clothes underneath it from drips, splatters, splashes, spills, and smudges while painting. 
    • High-visibility safety vest or jacket – Painters working at heights should wear a reflective safety vest or jacket for visibility and protection from potential hazards. These vests allow the worker to be seen and alert that someone is present, especially in low-visibility situations.
  • Respiratory protection – Respirators for painting jobs may vary depending on the paint type, the application method, the size of the space being painted, and the level of ventilation. But for most painting jobs, a half-face air-purifying respirator with N95 or P100 filters should be enough to protect the wearer while painting.
    • N95 respirator – N95 respirators typically filter out 95% (or greater) of sanding dust, mold spores, and paint fumes. They are ideal for most paint jobs, including brushing, rolling, and spraying paint water-based paints such as latex and acrylic.
    • P100 respirator – P100 respirators typically filter out at least 99% of airborne particles. If you’re using oil-based (alkyd) paints and for painting enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation, you should use this respirator.
    • Powered respirator – This respirator filters and even purifies the air. It uses a pump to push the air into the hood the user wears.  
  • Eye, face, and head protection
    • Safety glasses – Safety glasses with side shields protect the eye area from fumes, sanding dust, mold and mildew spores, and flying-object hazards such as floating sawdust. Many safety glasses are tinted for protection against glare and the sun’s UV rays. They can also be worn over prescription glasses.
    • Goggles – A good pair of goggles should be worn where there is a risk of paint, other chemicals, and sanding dust getting into the painter’s eyes, especially while spraying paint or painting in a windy or dusty environment. Goggles are also available in tinted options to protect the eyes from glare and the sun’s UV rays.
    • Face shield – Face shields should be worn for painting jobs where there is a risk of paint, other chemicals, and sanding dust getting into the painter’s eyes, especially while spraying paint or painting in a windy or dusty environment. But a face shield alone doesn’t guarantee complete protection for eyes, nose, and mouth from such contamination, so it should be worn over other protective eyewear and/or face masks.
    • 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.
  • Hearing protection – The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when exposure to noise reaches 85 decibels (or higher) averaged over eight work hours or an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA). Also, OSHA requires employers to provide free hearing protection equipment available to all employees exposed to such high-frequency noise over eight working hours or an eight-hour TWA. Hearing protection gear shall be replaced as necessary.
    • Safety earplugs – They are inserted into the ear to prevent loud noise from entering the ear. They are also useful to protect the ear from the intrusion of water, dust, insect, cold, and strong winds.
    • Earmuffs – They are used to protect the wearer’s ears from excessive noise, dust, wind, extreme temperature changes, etc. For optimum protection from the noise, earplugs and earmuffs can be worn together.
  • Hand and foot protection
    • Gloves – Whatever type of protective gloves the painters might wear, they are all essential for protecting the painter’s hands from paint drips and splatters, sharp or rough objects, abrasion hazards, cold and heat, and potential injuries. Protective gloves for paint jobs are available in coated, foam, nylon, cut-resistant, nitrite, and reusable and disposable options.
    • Shoe covers – Shoe covers help keep dirt and grime from entering the worksite and protect the painter’s footwear and any exposed skin from wet paint. 
    • Safety shoes – While safety shoes are designed for a specific occupation, all safety shoes for the workplace should be slip-resistant and provide sufficient protection for the feet from falling objects, punctures, cuts, injuries, etc. A pair of shoes that can withstand extreme heat are ideal for painters working in high temperatures. High-cut safety boots are good for most workers, particularly those who are exposed to rough or damp environments. They also help keep the feet comfortable, clean, and dry.
  • Fall arrest equipment – 
    • Full-body harness – Also known as a safety harness, is a wearable fall arrest component that connects the wearer to the anchorage point, preventing that wearer from hitting the floor or ground in the event of a fall. A full-body harness distributes all forces of a fall onto one area of the wearer’s body, making sure that the wearer is suspended upright right after a fall.
    • Connectors or connecting means – Connectors or connecting means are a bridge between the full-body harness and the anchorage connector. They consist of an energy-absorbing component to prevent injury during a fall. Some connectors have a control system that allows the wearer to adjust the line as needed. Connectors include backup webbing and clips connecting the lanyard to the full-body harness. Here are some best-known connectors:
      • Lanyard – It connects the full-body harness to the anchor or lifeline with a line of energy-absorbing webbing.
      • Self-retracting lifelines – Self-retracting lifelines feature an automatic belay system that maintains constant tension on the line. As the name indicates, self-retracting lifelines include a rope, cable, or webbing that retracts into the housing unit connected to the anchorage.
      • Carabiners – A carabiner is a coupling link with a safety closure and can serve as a good backup system and provide extra security.
      • Webbing – Webbing refers to a material that provides a strong but flexible backbone of a harness and ties all weight-bearing parts (belt, leg loops, belay loop) together. Webbing has been traditionally made from nylon, polyester, or other synthetic fibers.

Safety gear maintenance and care

Safety helmet with earphones and goggles

Anyone using and wearing PPE items should take care of them in order to extend their efficacy, efficiency, and overall useful life. If it is reusable, it must be cleaned and kept in good condition. As the name suggests, disposable PPE items should be properly discarded once used. Disposable PPE is ideal for situations when laundry costs are high.

  • Take care of your PPE always.
  • Make sure to check your PPE before and after each use.
  • Always clean and sanitize your PPE for safer use.
  • After using your PPE, store it in a clean and dry place that is free from heat, sunlight, moisture, and contaminants.
  • Disposable PPE, such as disposable gloves and shoe covers, should be discarded once they are used.
  • Never reuse disposable PPE because this can also pose high levels of risk for accidental contamination.
  • Repair or replace damaged PPE.
  • Never share used PPE, as this practice can put you and your co-workers at risk for accidental contamination.
  • Report any case of loss, damage, or obvious defect on the PPE you are provided.

Employee training and awareness of PPE

If PPE is a requirement for a workplace, the employer should establish and implement a solid PPE training and awareness program. 

The PPE program should address specific key issues, most notably the present and potential hazards of a workplace; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring the program to ensure its effectiveness for long time.

Employers are required to train their employees who must use PPE, while employees must be encouraged to undergo PPE training to make them aware of the following:

  • When it is necessary to use PPE
  • Which PPE is necessary for which circumstance
  • Ways to put on, take off, adjust, and wear PPE properly
  • PPE limitations
  • The proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE

It is the employer’s duty and responsibility to ensure that each of his employees demonstrates a full understanding of the PPE training and the ability to properly use PPE before they are permitted to work using PPE.

However, if the employer sees that the employee fails to demonstrate understanding of the PPE training, the employer should put the employee under re-training. Other situations that require retraining or additional training of employees include changes in the work environment or in the type of required PPE, which automatically voids the prior PPE training.

Conclusion

The best painters in the Bay Area play a vital role in transforming the aesthetics and maintaining the structural integrity of a home or commercial building. These painters use various paints and materials and employ several techniques to effectively paint and protect different types of surfaces, beautifying and extending a home or building’s useful life.

Painters are responsible for the paint selection (including colors and finishes), site and surface preparation, and then preparing and applying paint on a variety of surfaces. As painters protect and beautify our living spaces and businesses, they are exposed to hazardous elements that can compromise their health and safety. Therefore, they need to be protected from the hazards, existing or potential, that they encounter on a regular basis.

For this reason, their employers have the legal and moral duty and responsibility to provide their paint crew with the essential PPE and solid training and awareness on the proper use and maintenance of PPE. Placing safety first at work tells you that the painting contractor you hire is committed to safeguarding their workers and the properties they paint – and that is one of the characteristics of a reputable painting contractor.

Call Custom Painting, Inc. at 925-294-8062 the next time you need commercial painting done. You can also fill out the Contact Us form, and we’ll call you back. We look forward to working with you!