Upon completing this section, you should be able to state the principal fire and health hazards associated with painting operations.

Every painting assignment exposes Builders to conditions and situations representing actual or potential danger. Toxic and flammable materials, pressurized equipment, ladders, scaffolding, and rigging always make painting a hazardous job. Hazards may also be inherent in the very nature of the environment or result from ignorance or carelessness by the painter.

The main causes of painting accidents are unsafe working conditions or equipment, and careless personnel. The proper setting up and dismantling of equipment, the required safety checks, and the proper care of equipment may require more time than is spent using it. Nevertheless, safety measures must be taken.


Certain general rules regarding fire and explosion hazards apply to all situations. All paint materials should have complete label instructions stipulating the potential fire hazards and precautions to be taken. Painters must be advised and reminded of the fire hazards that exist under the particular conditions of each job. They need to be aware of the dangers involved and the need to work safely. Proper fire-fighting equipment must always be readily available in the paint shop, spray room, and other work areas where potential fire hazards exist. Electric wiring and equipment installed or used in the paint shop, including the storage room and spray room, must conform to the applicable requirements of the National Electrical Code (NEC) for hazardous areas.


Many poisons, classified as toxic and skin-irritating, are used in the manufacture of paint. Although your body can withstand small quantities of poisons for short periods, overexposure can have harmful effects. Continued exposure to even small amounts may cause the body to become sensitized; subsequent contact, even in small amounts, may cause an aggravated reaction. The poisons in paint are definite threats to normally healthy individuals and serious dangers to persons having chronic illnesses or disorders. Nevertheless, health hazards can be avoided by a common-sense approach of avoiding unnecessary contact with toxic or skin-imitating materials.

As with all tasks the Builder undertakes, safety must be a primary concern from the earliest planning stages to the final cleanup. Shortcuts, from personnel protection to equipment-related safety devices, should not be permitted. Follow the project safety plan, and consult all applicable safety manuals when involved with any paint operation. Remember, work safe, stay safe.