Fact Sheet Addresses Hazards of Spray Painting in Shipyard Employment

Published June 28, 2017

​A new fact sheet published by OSHA focuses on protecting workers who spray paint marine vessels from associated hazards such as exposures to chemical hazards and toxic substances, and fires and explosions from flammable paints and coatings. This type of work is often conducted in confined spaces, which must be properly ventilated in order to avoid hazardous exposures to workers. OSHA’s fact sheet (PDF) outlines shipyard employers’ responsibility to identify, evaluate, and protect workers from exposure to respiratory and other workplace hazards, and reminds employers that they must ensure that chemical labels and safety data sheets are available to exposed workers. Employees must also be trained on the hazards and measures to protect themselves.

OSHA discusses control measures for protecting these workers, including engineering controls such as ventilation and personal protective equipment (PPE). According to the agency, a shipyard competent person must conduct frequent tests to verify that solvent vapors are at a concentration below 10 percent of the lower explosive limit during the spray application of paints or coatings where the potential for hazardous atmospheric conditions and fires or explosions exists. Employers must also take precautions with tools and other equipment, which have the potential to be ignition sources in flammable and combustible atmospheres through an electrical spark or static discharge. OSHA’s fact sheet also briefly covers appropriate PPE, which, depending on the work activities, may include airline respirators, protective clothing, gloves, goggles, and face shields.