As a PCBU, you have the primary duty to ensure that workers and others are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from your work.

PCBUs incolved in spray painting and powder coating should refer to:

Managing the risks

Risk is the possibility that harm (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard. To get started you need to know the risks associated with spray painting and powder coating. When you know what the risks are, you must do whatever you can to eliminate or minimise them.

The processes involved in spray painting and powder coating are hazardous due to a combination of factors such as the use, handling and storage of hazardous chemicals, and exposure to electrical, noise, manual handling and plant hazards.

A PCBU involved in spray painting or powder coating must eliminate risks associated with this work or, if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise the risks.

As the PCBU you must ensure that:

  • you provide any information, training, instruction and supervision necessary to protect all persons from risks (so far as is reasonably practicable)
  • the information, training and instructions are suitable and adequate, having regard to the nature of the work and the risks associated with the work
  • the risk control measures, and the training and instruction being provided, are readily understandable
  • no person is exposed to a substance or mixture in an airborne concentration that exceeds the exposure standard for the substance or mixture
  • air monitoring is carried out to determine the airborne concentration of a substance or mixture to which an exposure standard applies
  • work in extremes of heat or cold are able to be carried out without risk to health and safety noise levels do not exceed the exposure standards Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is provided and selected by ensuring that the equipment is:
    • suitable for the nature of the work and any hazard associated with the work
    • a suitable size
    • fit and comfortable
    • maintained, repaired or replaced when required and used or worn by the worker.

As the PCBU you must manage the risks associated with:

  • using, handling, generating or storing of hazardous chemicals, including ensuring that hazardous chemicals are correctly labelled and that workers can access current Safety Data Sheets
  • electrical equipment, including ensuring that any unsafe electrical equipment is disconnected from its electricity supply
  • ignition sources in hazardous atmospheres - flammable or combustible substances are to be kept at the lowest practicable quantity
  • musculoskeletal disorders related to hazardous manual tasks working in confined spaces, including entering, working in, on or in the vicinity of a confined space (including a risk of a person inadvertently entering a confined space).

Workers' health should also be monitored.

Spray painting booths

Spray painting booths that are enclosed or partially enclosed structures are designed to prevent or reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals or vapours.

A spray booth should be used when spray painting with a hazardous chemical, except when:

  • the shape, size or weight of an article cannot be easily moved or fit into a spray booth e.g. painting a building, bridge or large boat
  • the painting involves minor work such as spotting or touch-ups e.g. painting a scratch or stone chip on a car (painting a car panel with two-pack polyurethane paint would not be regarded as minor work).

Where it is not reasonably practicable to do spray painting in a booth and it is carried out in a building or structure (other than a confined space), the building or structure should be of open construction or a mechanical exhaust system should be used to prevent the build-up of flammable or toxic fumes.

Some hazardous chemicals (e.g. arsenic, benzene) are prohibited for spray painting.

Electrical hazards

The powder coating process brings with it electrical hazards and additional requirements for safe work practices are required. All equipment and metal surfaces within three metres of the charged head of the spray gun (exclusion zone) should be earthed. People in the exclusion zone should not wear: metal articles, including metal watches non-conductive materials, including silk or synthetic fibres that can generate and accumulate static electricity, unless regularly treated with an antistatic solution.

Workers should also be provided with insulating gloves. Clothing, including socks, should not be made from silk or synthetic fibres, unless treated with an anti-static solution. Cotton clothing is preferable as it is less prone to generating static electricity.

The use of Triglycidylisocyanurate (TGIC) should be avoided with TGIC-free powder coating being readily available.

Review of processes

Workplaces and work environments can change as new hazards get introduced or when current hazards are eliminated.

Therefore you should regularly review your spray painting and powder coating processes, in consultation with your workers and the Code, to ensure they remain adequate and effective in managing associated risks.