Health & Safety
These notes concern health and safety requirements, industrial hygiene and potential hazards involved in handling paint and thinners. They are not intended to be exhaustive and do not cover all eventualities during the application and storage of paint.
Fire and Explosion
The majority of paints contain flammable organic solvents. As soon as a paint container is opened, solvent vapours are released. The flash point is the lowest temperature at which a liquid gives off sufficient vapour to form an inflammable mixture in contact with air :-
- If the flash point of the paint is lower than or close to the temperature of the air there is a very considerable risk of explosion or fire.
- If the flash point exceeds the air temperature then there is no risk of explosion but there still a risk of fire.
As such, therefore, no naked flames, cigarettes or matches should be allowed near an area where paint is being applied or stored. Precautions should also be taken to avoid sparks from electrical appliances or cause by metal to metal contact . If a fire involving paint does occur :-
- Do not extinguish with water, as paint solvents float on water, and this helps to spread fire.
- Use a dry chemical, foam or CO2 extinguisher.
Skin and Eye Contact
If paint is spilled the following precautions should be taken :-
- Ventilate the area to remove the fumes.
- Mop up all spilled Paint with absorbent material, ensuring that all materials used to mop up the paint are disposed of in closed metal containers.
It is recommended that the following precautions should be taken to prevent paint coming into contact with the skin and eyes.
- Select sensible working clothes, that cover as much of the body as possible.
- Always wear gloves and eye protection.
- Do not touch your mouth or eyes with your gloves.
- Read and observe precautionary notices on paint containers.
- Eyes are particularly sensitive, so if you are splashed in the eyes by paint or thinners, flood them immediately with fresh water for at least 10 minutes and seek medicaladvice immediately.
- If paint should splash on your skin , remove it with soap and water or an industrial cleaner, NEVER USE SOLVENT.
- Remember to wash hands and rinse mouth after working with paint.
- Despite these precautions paint can still come into contact with the skin or eyes (e.g. spray mist, excessive splashing), so a non-greasy barrier cream is recommended for allexposed skin.
Remember the objective is to avoid skin contact . If your clothes become soaked in paint , change them immediately and thoroughly wash the affected garments with soap and water.
The inhalation of solvent fumes, dust , paint vapours must be avoided. Please follow the precautions listed.