Safety First: Essential Protective Gear for Painting Projects

The best painters in the Bay Area play a key role in transforming the look and maintaining the structural integrity of a home or commercial building. They perform a wide range of services besides painting, use various paints and materials, and employ several techniques to paint and protect different types of surfaces effectively.

Painters are responsible for the paint selection, site and surface preparation, and preparing and applying paint and other finishes on a variety of surfaces (walls, doors, trim, roofs, etc.). As painters protect and beautify our living spaces and businesses, they also require and deserve protection from the hazards, whether existing or potential, they encounter daily. 

Besides, workplace safety is both a duty and moral responsibility of every painting contractor. Any responsible and conscientious painter doesn’t wish harm to anyone or cause damage to one’s assets or property. Therefore, wearing essential protective gear 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 right type of protective gear.

What are the risks that painters usually encounter?

Painters encounter various hazards in their work. Therefore, it is important for you to know if the paint crew you have hired (or are considering hiring) follows safety procedures on the site and uses the proper protective equipment, both for their own health and safety and protection of your home or business from damage and/or financial liability. 

Here are some of the common hazards that residential and commercial painters are usually exposed to at work:

  • Prolonged standing
  • Working at heights
  • Slips and falls
  • Exposure to chemicals and sanding dust
  • Exposure to sanding dust
  • Exposure to mold and mildew spores
  • Working in confined spaces
  • Improper ventilation
  • Exposure to heat and cold
  • Falling objects
  • Lifting heavy or awkward objects
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Electrical hazards
  • Lack of proper ventilation
  • Working in confined spaces
  • Injury from using sharp tools or contact with rough surfaces, etc.
  • High-frequency noise (more common in commercial and industrial paint projects)

Essential protective equipment for painting contractors

professional construction worker with mask, safety hard hat

The specific type and number of personal protective equipment (PPE) a painting contractor requires will vary depending on their job. For instance, if a painter sprays paint in a confined space that lacks proper ventilation, that painter will need to wear more PPE than if the painter works in a well-ventilated area.

Here are the following basic PPE for painting jobs:

  • Respiratory protection – The right respirator for painting jobs depends on the type of paint or other coating the painters use, the application method, and the level of ventilation in the work area. 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 airborne particles and contaminants, including 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. They are ideal for using oil-based (alkyd) paints and for painting enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation.
    • 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 usually have side shields to protect the eye area from fumes, contaminants, 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 is a good option 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 are usually 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. However, wearing a face shield alone doesn’t guarantee complete protection for the face from such contamination, so it should be worn over protective eyewear and/or face mask.
    • 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.
  • Protective clothing
    • Overalls – Overalls usually 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.
  • Hand and foot protection
    • Gloves – Protective gloves for paint jobs are available in coated, foam, nylon, cut-resistant, nitrite, and reusable and disposable options. Whatever type of protective gloves are chosen, 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.
    • Shoe covers – Shoe covers keep dirt and grime from entering the worksite, and the additional benefit of protecting the painter’s footwear from wet paint. 
    • Safety shoes – The choice of safety shoes depends on the present or potential hazards. It’s a good idea to assess the workplace and work activities of the painters. However, all safety shoes for the workplace should be slip-resistant and sufficiently protect the feet from punctures, cuts, falling objects, injuries, etc. Painters who are exposed to high temperatures on a regular basis require a pair of shoes that can withstand extreme heat. 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 or safety harness – It 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. Unlike a mere safety belt, a full-body harness distributes all forces of a fall onto one area of the wearer’s body, ensuring that the wearer is suspended upright right following a fall.
    • Connectors – Connectors or connecting means serve as a bridge between the full-body harness and the anchorage connector. They usually consist of energy-absorbing components to prevent injury during a fall. Some connectors feature a control system that enables the wearer to adjust the line as necessary. In addition, connectors include backup webbing and clips that connect the lanyard to the full-body harness. Some connectors include:
      • Lanyard – It connects the full-body harness to the anchor or lifeline with a line of energy-absorbing webbing.
      • Lifelines – Self-retracting lifelines feature an automatic belay system that maintains constant tension on the line. The rope, cable, or webbing retracts into the housing unit connected to the anchorage.
      • Carabiners – A carabiner is a coupling link with a safety closure. Carabiners can serve as a good backup system and provide extra security.
      • Webbing – Webbing is a material that provides a strong but flexible backbone of a harness and ties all weight-bearing parts (belt, leg loops, belay loop) together. Traditionally, the webbing has been made from nylon, polyester, or other synthetic fibers.
  • Hearing protection – The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers to implement a hearing conservation program when exposure to noise is at 85 decibels or greater, averaged over eight work hours or an eight-hour time-weighted average (TWA). In addition, the agency also requires employers to provide hearing protectors available to all employees exposed to such high-frequency noise over eight working hours or an eight-hour TWA, free of charge. Hearing protection equipment shall be replaced as necessary.
    • Safety earplugs – Earplugs 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, insects, cold, and strong winds.
    • Earmuffs – They are used to protect the wearer’s ears from excessive noise, as well as dust, or extreme temperature changes. If the noise levels are too high or if a person has very ears, earplugs and earmuffs can be worn together.

Who is responsible for providing protective gear for the paint crew?

Decorator in protective overalls painting wall with spray gun

Whether the job is professional residential painting, commercial painting, or any other job and the activity of the professional, their PPEs should be the responsibility of their employer. This is mentioned in article R. 4321-4 of the Labor Code, which requires that the employer must provide their crew with PPEs free and ensure that they function and are maintained properly.

Safety gear maintenance and care

When not in use, a painter’s PPE must be properly looked after and stored. If it is reusable, it must be cleaned and kept in good condition. This is important because the effectiveness of the PPE can be significantly reduced if it is improperly cleaned and maintained. Care and maintenance of PPE can be easily done by the workers themselves.

Keeping a supply of disposable PPE, such as suits, gloves, and shoe covers, is good. They are useful, especially for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high.

  • Always take care of your PPE.
  • 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 them in a clean and dry place, free from sunlight, moisture, and contaminants.
  • Promptly repair or replace damaged PPE.
  • Do not share used PPE, as this practice can put you at risk for accidental contamination.
  • If the PPE is disposable (such as gloves and shoe covers), discard them once used. Do not reuse disposable PPE, as this can also pose high levels of risk for accidental contamination.
  • Report any loss, damage, or obvious defect on the PPE you are provided.

Training and Awareness

If PPE is to be used in a workplace, the employer should implement a solid PPE program, which should address the following:

  • The present and potential hazards of a workplace
  • The selection, maintenance, and use of PPE
  • The training of employees
  • Monitoring of the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness

Employers are required to train their employees who must use PPE, while employees must be willing to undergo training so that they will be aware of the following:

  • When PPE is necessary
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to put on, take off, adjust, and wear PPE properly
  • The limitations of PPE
  • The proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that each employee completely understands the PPE training (e.g., the training is taught in the language they understand) and the ability to use PPE properly before they are allowed to work that requires the use of PPE.

However, if the employer believes that the employee does not demonstrate an understanding of the PPE training, then the employer should retrain the employee. Other situations that require retraining or additional training of employees include changes in the work environment or in the type of required PPE that makes the prior training obsolete.

Conclusion

Painting a home or commercial building can expose the workers to various hazards. Thus, the use of PPE can minimize the painter’s exposure to such hazards that can otherwise cause serious illnesses and injuries caused by exposure to chemicals, dust, mold, extreme weather changes, and electrical hazards.

In order to maintain a safe working practice, employers are required to provide solid safety training to their employees regarding the proper use of PPE. With good training, the crew members will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the proper use of PPE before they are allowed to work in areas that require such PPE. The best commercial painters in Livermore, CA, always put safety first in every project they tackle for a successful paint job.

Call 925-294-8062 to speak with the team at Custom Painting, Inc. They’ll help you set up an appointment for a free estimate and answer questions you may have. You can also fill out the contact form; one of us will get back to you shortly.