Painting and decorating services are frequently in demand, as most construction projects will require professional finishing. Working in the industry is satisfying and rewarding, but safe methods of work should always be followed to minimise risks of accident or injury.
With such a wide range of painting and decorating tasks within the profession, there are many different safety risks to be monitored and managed. Responsible painting and decorating companies, such as the long established Scott Anson Painters, will always ensure that their workers have the correct certification so that the most up–to–date procedures are maintained.
Falling from a height is the main cause of work-based fatalities in the construction industry. Employers are responsible for following up–to–date safety procedures, but anyone working in construction should only carry out tasks that they are trained to do; for example, training is required before using a working platform. Defects in scaffolding, ladders or mobile towers should also be immediately reported to the relevant on-site senior figures.
Painting involves several tasks which are linked to cancer–causing chemicals and materials. Sanding, filling, painting and spraying can involve exposure to lead, solvents, asbestos, construction dust and other hazardous substances.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is an independent safety regulator that identifies painters and decorators as a significantly ‘at risk’ group. Past exposure from up to 50 years ago is thought to have killed approximately 250 people through lung, bladder and stomach cancers.
Solvents present various dangers for construction workers. These highly flammable substances demand the utmost care and consideration during handling. The increasing popularity of water-based paints is largely due to them containing minimal amounts of solvent. Water-based paints are suitable for a large variety of surfaces and, as well as being safer, are kinder to the environment.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is another important consideration for painters and decorators. In particular, a face mask and eye goggles are needed to prevent workers from inhaling fumes or getting harmful substances in their eyes. Adequate ventilation is always recommended to minimise the build up of fumes in any workspace; windows and doors should be kept open to aerate working areas. This is especially important during large scale construction projects.
Thankfully, advances in paint technology have decreased risks for modern construction workers through the removal of lead pigment and reduced solvent levels in paint. There are a number of precautions that painters and decorators can take to reduce the risk of accident, injury and ill-health. Supervisors should ensure that up–to–date procedures are enforced, and that workers are properly trained so on-site safety is a priority for all.