How to Manage Compliance in Your Industrial Paint Shop

How to Manage Compliance in Your Industrial Paint Shop

Complying with CoSHH Regulations (2002) should be a top priority for any industrial paint shop. Aside from the hefty fines that come with a breach, non-compliance puts your greatest asset at risk - your workforce.  But what does this mean in practice? Employers need to create a paint shop culture that embraces worker safety. Monitoring exposure, health surveillance and best practice working procedures help to achieve this.

Monitoring exposure to solvents and isocyanates

You are responsible for knowing which of the substances that you use in your paint shop are subject to work exposure limits (WELs). You must also monitor exposure to ensure that the control measures that you have in place are working effectively. In the paint shop environment, monitoring takes the form of:

a) Proving that you are using the right level and type of RPE

You can do this by carrying out personal air monitoring. This is the process of measuring the level of a hazardous substance in the air that the painter is breathing while the task is underway.

b) Providing a biological sample (when spraying isocyanate-based products only)

The only way to determine the level of exposure to isocyanate (ISO) is with a urine test. This will tell you if the combination of control measures in place is sufficient. The worker should give an end-of-shift sample.

Testing frequency

As a minimum, all sprayers and others who may be potentially exposed to ISOs need to provide a urine sample yearly. New employees should give a sample in the first few months of employment to check that controls are providing protection.

Protocol when results are above the biological monitoring guidance value

In the event of a test indicating that exposure controls are failing, there must be further investigation and a review of control measures. Repeat tests once controls have been implemented fully. NOTE: Urine testing only provides information about exposure. It does not give information about a person's health. 

Industrial paint shop health surveillance

Products that contain ISOs are a leading cause of occupational asthma. For this reason, CoSHH Regulations (2002) require that spray shops provide health surveillance for paint sprayers.

What does health surveillance involve?

In most circumstances, health surveillance will involve:

New employees:

  • A pre-exposure questionnaire and lung-function test prior to starting work.
  • Repeat questionnaire and test after six weeks and six months in the job.

For all paint sprayers:

  • An annual questionnaire and lung-function test.
  • Annual skin check for dermatitis (applies to body preparation workers as well as painters).
Any medically proven cases of occupational asthma or dermatitis caused by isocyanate exposure must be reported under RIDDOR.

Best practice working procedures

Paint shop custom and practice must always support worker health and safety. Make sure that someone in your paint shop is responsible for implementing and overseeing the following protocols and practices.

PPE and RPE

Personal protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment [link to PPE blog post] only prevent exposure when they are worn, used correctly and in good working order. Make sure that all painters:
  • Receive training on how to use and maintain the equipment.
  • Perform a fit test to ensure that the equipment is the right fit and weight for them.
  • Understand the protocol for wearing and removing the equipment.
  • Perform regular maintenance checks on the equipment.

Breathing apparatus (BA)

It's not uncommon for a sprayer to lift their visor to check the quality of their work straight after spraying. This is poor practice as it can cause significant exposure to invisible paint mist that takes up to 30 minutes to clear from the booth. Correct protocol is to:
  1. Walk to the pedestrian door wearing the air-fed BA. The air hose connection point should be by the pedestrian door and the hose must be long enough for the worker to comfortably walk from the spray area to the pedestrian door wearing the BA.
  2. Open the pedestrian door, unplug the airline and hang it by the door.
  3. Step out of the booth and close the door before removing the BA.

Spray booth and equipment maintenance

  • Clean and maintain [link to booth maintenance blog post] the spray booth and equipment in accordance with the manufacturer's schedule and guidelines.
  • Carry out a thorough examination test and measure clearance time every 14 months.
You can find more detailed information about spray booth maintenance and compliance in our free guide [link to download].

Spray booth air pressure

Operate the booth at a slightly lower air pressure than the surroundings (at 'negative pressure'). This prevents paint mist escaping into the workshop. Check air pressure daily. How does your working practice stack up? Are you confident that your industrial paint shop operations comply with CoSHH (2002) Regulations and provide a safe working environment for your painters? If you'd like the objective input of one of our specialist advisors, contact us to arrange a free site visit and paint shop audit. Consider adding 'Download guide' and 'Book a site visit' call out buttons in addition to the text links above.

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