Painters Safety 101: Common Hazards & Control Measures 

What To Know About Painters’ Safety On The Job

Painters encounter a variety of hazards in their work — from the chemicals they use, the environments in which they work and the conditions under which they work. It’s important for you to know if your crews are following effective safety procedures on the site, both for their own health and safety and to protect your company from financial liability. A software system like SupplyPro GM for Painters can help by providing mobile safety checklists that your field crews can use to record their compliance with your company safety plan and note any potential problems on site. When information about hazards and controls is immediately available to you and the builder through such a software feature, immediate steps can be taken to correct unsafe conditions before they cause injuries or health issues.

Potential Health and Safety Issues

Exposure to Chemicals

Chemical exposure is an unavoidable part of the job; it’s important to know what your crews are being exposed to and how they could be affected. Paint and solvent fumes can be toxic and cause headaches, dizziness and other harmful short-term and long-term side effects. Your painters may also be exposed to airborne toxins in other building materials such as drywall, insulation, etc.

Working at Heights on Ladders and Scaffolding

Falls are, by far, the most dangerous risk run by painters on the job. Improperly structured or secured ladders or scaffolding increases the risks. Working on ladders or scaffolding also requires painters to lift heavy or awkward equipment and materials onto them and repetitive or improper lifting techniques can cause injuries to arms, shoulders, backs, etc.

Risk of Eye and Skin Injuries

Paint fumes, as well as the flecks of paint that are constantly propelled into the air by brushes or rollers, can cause eye irritation and injuries. Paint flecks and spills can also cause skin irritation. 

Slips and Uneven Surfaces

Spilled paint and paint drips are virtually unavoidable and can create a risk of slips and falls. Uneven surfaces are also common on residential construction sites. Floor levels may vary from one room to another. Even on level floors, tarps and plastic coverings often develop bumps and wrinkles that are tripping hazards. 

Preventative Measures To Take 

Use of Appropriate Equipment & Products 

The first step in any safety plan is to purchase appropriate equipment and products and use them properly. For example, choose ladders that meet OSHA standards, with safety features such as slip resistant feet and locking devices. Use extended handle paint brushes whenever possible to avoid working at heights and choose the right ladder for the job when you really need one.

Be aware of the composition of the paints used by your crews. Try to use the least toxic paints that are appropriate for the job. Check the safety data sheet (SDS) for each product you buy to determine how to use it safely.

Keep Equipment & Safety Features In Working Order 

Inspect all equipment and safety gear regularly. Set up a routine inspection plan and make it part of your safety checklist. 

Wear Personal Protective Equipment 

Determine the correct PPE for each job and make it part of each worker’s daily checklist. A list of required items might include: 

  • Work gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • Masks & respirators
  • Coveralls
  • Hard hats
  • Fall protection
  • Knee pads
  • Anti-slip footwear

Evaluate Work Area 

Your crew should be keeping their eyes open for hazards and correcting or reporting them immediately. 

Good housekeeping is the first line of defense against on-the-job injuries. It should be done and checked regularly throughout each shift and includes:

  • Cleaning up spills and drips immediately
  • Tacking or taping mats and tarps to keep them flat
  • Keeping work areas well lit
  • Keeping walkways clear of obstacles, including equipment and general clutter 
  • Removing debris from floors, removing unused materials from the workspace

Maintain Good Ventilation

To minimize breathing hazards, it’s critical to maintain good ventilation during interior painting. At a minimum, open windows as wide as possible and use fans to push the fumes out through the windows. Some jobs will require artificial ventilation, especially those in confined spaces, when high VOC (volatile organic compound) paints are used, or when paints are mixed with toxic vehicles or solvents. 

Train Crews in Safety 

Your crews need to know your company’s safety rules and job site best practices. They should be trained in:

  • How to recognize and immediately report hazards 
  • Correct procedures for working at heights
  • Safe lifting techniques
  • Selection, use and maintenance of personal protective equipment 
  • Good housekeeping procedures

Getting Help from Software for Residential Painting Contractors

A written company safety plan that includes identification of potential hazards, preventative measures and procedures for emergency response can provide the right foundation for training your workers and developing an on-site safety checklist. Hyphen Solutions’ SupplyPro GM can help you manage your on-site workflow both efficiently and safely.

SupplyPro GM is cloud-based construction software that helps you manage your residential painting projects from receiving a new work order through approvals and payment. Built for mobility, this effective painting software gives you real-time information and control in every part of your business. Learn more about how SupplyPro GM can help you manage your painting company more effectively or schedule a demo today.