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RCR International provide advice on safety precautions in the powder coating industry

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RCR International  has the following advice on safety precautions to be taken in the powder coating industry.

WorkSafe is currently conducting an inspection campaign in powder coating businesses with a view to reducing injuries in the sector.

The campaign will involve inspectors visiting powder coating businesses to identify any common safety risks and provide employers with information on how to comply with occupational safety and health requirements.

There are several hazardous substances used within the powder coating industry. Hazardous substances are considered to be any chemical or other material that may put people at risk, and as such continual vigilance when it comes to safety is essential.

Hazardous substances may include:

  • chromic acid and powder coatings that contain TGIC; and
  • hydrofluoric acid.

When using hazardous substances, it is mandatory to provide Material Safety Data Sheets for each one, identifying the ingredients in the substance, as well as the health information and the precautions that must be taken for safe use and handling.

It is important to control worker exposure to these dangerous substances and safety risks by means other than just the use of personal protective equipment. However, when other control measures, such as engineering controls and safe work practices, do not adequately protect the worker, then personal protective equipment must be worn.

Personal protective equipment must be in compliance with relevant Australian Standards and include overalls, gloves, head and eye protection, and respiratory protection. In particular:

  • a powered air purifying respirator, which complies with AS/NZS 1716-1994 respiratory protective devices, and is used in accordance with AS/NZS 1715-1994 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices
  • respiratory protective equipment with head covering to avoid dust build up around the edges of the facemasks
  • during manual spraying, the gun-hand must not be insulated from the gun; either a cover sleeve must cowl the gun hand or the palm of an insulating glove may be cut out
  • operators standing outside the booth and spraying inside a booth through an aperture must wear this type of protective equipment; and
  • anti-static footwear should be provided.

In addition to personal protective equipment, safe work practices are necessary to supplement the engineering control measures in order to minimise worker exposure in powder coating environments. 

Safe work practices must, where practicable, include:

  • work practices designed to avoid the generation of dust
  • restricting access to spray painting areas
  • designed a safe workplace so that the spray painter is never between the object to be sprayed adn the airflow of contaminated air
  • situating the articles to be sprayed sufficiently within the boot to avoid rebound
  • implementing good personal hygiene practices, for example, powder coating dust should not be allowed to collect on the face, exposed body areas should be thoroughly washed and overalls should be regularly cleaned
  • storing powder coating and waste powder in a designated area with restricted access
  • cleaning booths and surrounding areas on a regular basis
  • promptly cleaning-up spills of powder coatings to reduce the spread of TGIC
  • using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter for clean-up operations and not using compressed-air or dry sweeping
  • using a spark-proof squeege when a wet clean-up is required
  • emptying vacuum cleaners in the booth and under exhaust ventilation
  • taking care to avoid the generation of dust during disposal of waste powder
  • waste powder being baked in the original box for disposal to landfill as as solid
  • vacuuming as primary decontamination of work clothing
  • checking regularly the cleaning and maintenance of plant and equipment, including ventilation and spray equipment and filters; and
  • proper induction training and general training of workers about the potential hazards of spraying with TGIC powder coatings and in the safe work practices necessary to minimise exposure.

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