Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Environment protection licences

Safety for inspecting spray painting premises and investigating odours

Contents

Aim of this document

Steps to take

Health considerations

Reporting dangerous occurences or exposure to hazardous materials

Examples of air pollution hazards associated with inspecting premises

Respiratory protection

Summary

Further information

Further reading

Aim of this document

This document aims to advise authorised officers on measures to use to protect themselves when inspecting spray painting premises or investigating odour complaints.

Steps to take

Authorised officers who have to investigate or inspect premises where there are problems associated with odours (including spray painting establishments), should take the following steps.

Identify the risks

Find out as much as you can about the site before you go there. Usually the officer doing the investigation will have information about the chemicals being used; these may include toxic compounds. Get a material safety data sheet with information about these chemicals before entering the area.

Assess the degree of risk

Before entering the site, discuss with the occupier what kind of exposure is likely and whether you will need to wear personal protective equipment during the inspection.

Control the risk

In most cases the exposure is of relatively short duration, so you should wear personal protective equipment appropriate to the task. This should consist of outer 'coverall' type clothing, eye protection and appropriate respiratory protection.

If you must use respiratory protection, make sure the respirator supplied is appropriate to the type of exposure and properly fitted and maintained. Make sure you have been trained to use it properly.

If you cannot satisfy all these conditions do not proceed. Seek further expert advice.

Health considerations

Record the duration and nature of all exposures; these records should be kept by your employer. Regular contact with any chemicals should be monitored. Where necessary a doctor should monitor the health of any officer who has been in contact with the chemicals.

If you suffer acute effects such as eye, skin or respiratory irritation, leave the area immediately and treat the affected area by washing it with water. If burns are apparent or you have difficulty breathing, seek medical help immediately.

In New South Wales, Occupational Health and Safety is administered by the SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover) under the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (NSW) 2000. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 (Part 7.1) provides specific directions on spray painting. Guidance is also provided in National Guidance Material for Spray Painting (NOHSC, 1999) and the SafeWork NSW Spray painting and powder coating code of practice (2014) (PDF 1.7MB).

. The provides specific directions on spray painting. Guidance is also provided in (NOHSC, 1999) and the (2001).

Reporting dangerous occurences or exposure to hazardous materials

Your employer should immediately be notified of any incident in which you believe you may have been exposed to hazardous materials, including chemicals, gases, vapours, dusts or liquids. Your employer should also be notified of any exposure to biological hazards, such as insect bites or stings, or to blood-borne hazards found in materials such as pathology wastes.

It is important to report all incidents promptly (usually by telephone) to facilitate any medical intervention needed. In addition, the details of the exposure event should be recorded on your organisation's accident/incident report form.

Employers must notify SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover) immediately of any dangerous occurrence, for example, any occurrence involving imminent risk of death or serious injury to any person or property.

Examples of air pollution hazards associated with inspecting premises

Spray painting premises

Inspecting a spray painting premises may expose you to a number of air-borne risks. Short-term exposure to solvents can cause symptoms such as eye, throat and lung irritation, headache, nausea and altered sensation. Long-term exposure can affect the blood forming tissues, the liver, the kidneys and the nervous system. Polyurethane and epoxy paints can irritate the respiratory passages and cause dermatitis. The isocyanates in polyurethane paints can cause asthma-type symptoms, even at low concentrations. In smash repair premises you may be exposed to toxic dusts from lead chromate and other metallic compounds in pigments in old paints. Dust from body fillers is not toxic but can irritate the air passages.

Premises where there may be toxic gas

Because of Government requirements to contain odours and pollutants, waste products from industries such as abattoirs, breweries, glue manufacturing and food processing are increasingly being stored in holding vessels. The action of microorganisms on these waste products may produce toxic gases like hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and methane.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001 (Part 4.3, Division 9), there are some very specific requirements for working in confined spaces. Guidance is also available from Australian Standard 2865: 2001 Safe Working in a Confined Space.

The risk of toxic gas being a hazard in a confined space is highest in premises where there have been recent modifications to the plant or production process, where products have been stored for longer than normal, or where the gas is hidden under a layer of liquid or sludge.

If you suspect the presence of toxic gas, call an expert.

Premises that use biofilters

You may be at risk of inhaling spores of legionella, tetanus or clostridial organisms if you are called on to investigate an odour on premises that use biofilters. The biofilters may be used as a screen in cooling towers and also on larger sites where a large contained biomass is used as the filtering agent. In both instances appropriate personal protective equipment such as 'coverall' type clothing, gloves, eye protection and appropriate respiratory protection should be worn.

Respiratory protection

Respiratory protection should be selected depending on the type and degree of risk present at an inspection site. Risks vary depending on the type of processes being undertaken, the emission control and hygiene measures taken by the occupier of the site, and the effectiveness of the respiratory protection supplied and worn. Some respirators also filter odours; consider this factor when selecting respiratory equipment. Inspectors should inquire about the hazards of the particular site before they enter areas of possible risk.

Summary

If you are called on to investigate a spray painting premises, or a premises where there has been a complaint of an odour, be aware of the risks and what you must do to minimise them before you enter. If you are uncertain, or if there is a risk of a toxic gas being present, seek expert advice from the SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover).

Further information

For further information consult the SafeWork NSW's Information Centre Information Centre on 13 10 50.

Further reading

International Labour Office, Geneva, 'Painting and Varnishing', Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, volume 2, 3rd edn, pp.1583-1585.

Occupational Health and Safety Act NSW 2000

Occupational Health and Safety Regulation 2001

Standards Australia 2001, Australian Standard 2865-2001 Safe Working in a Confined Space

Standards Australia 1990, Australian Standard 3754-1990 Safe Application of Powder Coatings by Electrostatic Spraying

Standards Australia 1994, Australian Standard 1715-1994 Selection, Use and Maintenance of Respiratory Protective Devices

Standards Australia 2004, Australian Standard 4360-2004 Risk Management

Standards Australia 2001, Australian Standard 2865-2001 Safe Working in a Confined Space

Standards Australia 1990, Australian Standard 3754-1990 Safe Application of Powder Coatings by Electrostatic Spraying

Standards Australia 1994, Australian Standard 1715-1994 Selection, Use and Maintenance of Respiratory Protective Devices

Standards Australia 2004, Australian Standard 4360-2004 Risk Management

National Occupational Health and Safety Commission 1999, National Guidance Material for Spray Painting

3M Australia Pty Ltd, 1993 Respirator Selection Guide, 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division, 950 Pacific Hwy, Pymble NSW

SafeWork NSW 2014, Spray painting and powder coating code of practice

National Occupational Health and Safety Commission 1999, National Guidance Material for Spray Painting

3M Australia Pty Ltd, 1993 Respirator Selection Guide, 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division, 950 Pacific Hwy, Pymble NSW

Page last updated: 13 October 2016