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Safety Tips for Painting

Using Protective Equipment
Handling Solvent-based Products
Using Step-Ladders Safely

Painter removing paint and preparing the surfaceUsing Protective Equipment
The basic gear you need for a safe DIY paint job are: gloves, safety glasses or goggles, a dust-mask for sanding, and sensible shoes with a good grip.

Skin protection:

  • Wear the appropriate gloves: cloth or leather gloves for sanding and scraping, impermeable gloves for applying water-based paint, solvent-resistant chemical gloves for handling solvent-based products.

Eye protection:

  • Use eye goggles or glasses, or a face mask.

Lung Protection:

  • Wear an anti-dust mask whilst sanding a surface or a solvent-respirator if working with solvent-based products.
  • Ensure good ventilation with open windows and doors.
  • Remove sources of ignition.

Handling Solvent-based Products

All organic-based solvents – including white spirit, solvent-based paints, solvent-based thinners and primers, solvent-based wood treatment products as well as paint strippers – represent potential health hazards, and require that particular precaution be taken both in use and in storage.

Here are some tips:

  • Read the label carefully for information on safety and health-related issues.
  • Solvents are highly flammable – keep these paints away from all sources of heat, and never expose directly to an open flame.
  • Store in cool, well-ventilated areas.
  • Keep these products out of reach of pets and children.
  • Dispose of rags properly – rags soaked with oil-based materials can ignite spontaneously if not spread out to dry.
  • Ensure good ventilation with open windows and doors.
  • Wear protective equipment.
  • Keep children and pets out of the painted area.

Water-based paints: a viable alternative to solvent based paint:
To a large extent, water-based paints pose fewer risks and health hazards than solvent phase paints. Modern, high quality water-based paints offer an excellent performance profile – superior durability and colour retention, excellent washability, for example. They are also more convenient to use – low in odour, they dry quickly, and brushes can be cleaned with warm, soapy water, with no need for white spirit or turpentine. And of course they are more environmentally-friendly.

Using Step-Ladders Safely
Woman next to ladder with paint canStep ladders are very often both a central part of a paint job, but also a key danger area. Here are some tips on how to minimise the likelihood of a ladder-related accident:

Inspect the ladder:

  • Take time to check the condition of the ladder both before and after use.
  • Check that the ladder is sufficiently robust to support your weight.
  • Make sure the steps are free of oil, wet paint, mud, or any other potentially slippery substance.

Erecting the ladder:

  • Clear the area around the ladder from any clutter. Make sure that no electrical cords or wire leads are close.
  • If the ladder needs to be in front of a door, consider locking the door to prevent surprise openings.
  • If the ladder is in a high-traffic area, draw attention to this fact in the house – a hand-written sign would do.
  • Make sure the floor is even and stable. Avoid wet or slippery surfaces.
  • Always support the ladder at four points

Climbing the ladder:

  • Wear suitable shoes – no heels, barefoot is not good, nor are most sandals.
  • Never climb onto wet or slippery steps, make sure they are dry.
  • Never overstretch – do not climb beyond the last three steps of a ladder.
  • Keep your shoulders between the rails and don’t over-reach – move the ladder instead.
  • Always keep 3 point contact with the ladder.
  • If your ceilings are high, but your ladder too small, don’t try to overreach yourself – renting or borrowing a suitable ladder is much safer.
  • Don’t let your children climb up the ladder: prevent access at the end of the day if you have to, or fold it up after use.
  • Be prepared for an unforeseen vertigo attack – don’t look down, breath slowly
    and steadily, and go back down step by step.
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