White Card Update: Painters Beware of Fallson Building Sites

Source : Tinou Bao

Even painters need to undergo safety training before beginning work on a construction site in Oz, not only because it’s the law, but also because it could save their lives. Painters usually come in at the end of a renovation or construction project however there are still hazards that may risk their health and safety and painters need to be aware of these hazards prior to beginning work.

The contractor or employer needs to ensure that work method statements are in order and readily available for painters to access if needed. They must also ensure that painters are in possession of their general safety induction card also known as the White Card. Provide workers with appropriate safety gear and PPE to perform the task of painting safely and without endangering their health.

One of the risks involved with paint work on a site is working from a height. Like all other work from heights, painters work can be extremely dangerous. Work from heights is the biggest cause of deaths on construction sites, so obviously this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Painters should not take work from heights lightly because even a fall from a relatively low height can cause serious illness or death. However if there is a risk of falling more than 2m controls need to be kept in place for painters, that may include edge protection, catch platforms etc.

Painters should use adequate work platforms and ensure that there are no gaps in perimeter protection. It is also important that any penetrations or holes be securely covered. Another issue to consider is the scaffolding used, these need to be erected by workers qualified to do so and needs to be appropriately designed and erected.

The next issue that requires attention are the tools and equipment needed by painters to perform their job safely. It is important that painters ensure that their tools and equipment are well maintained and in good condition before beginning work. Also workers should only use tools for their intended purpose and not improvise by interchanging tools and equipment between different tasks.

Housekeeping is also part of painter’s responsibility, in fact all workers on site are responsible for this. Painters should keep their working area clear of clutter and tools. It is important that they do not create a tripping hazard.One way of avoiding this is to keep material neatly stacked and out of the walkway. Also waste should be disposed of appropriately in the area designated for waste.

Painters working at heights need to ensure they don’t discard tools and materials by throwing them down to lower levels or the ground, many workers have been injured in this manner.  Also remember that controls should be implemented for loads being lifted over adjoining areas either by closing off the adjoining area or erecting a gantry.

Painters are also at risk of musculoskeletal damage if they engage in incorrect manual lifting techniques. Painters can make use of mechanical equipment (e.g. forklifts, trolleys, cranes) when lifting heavy loads to reduce the force needed to lift, carry, move, hold or restrain material and tools rather than put unnecessary tension on your back.

Also consider ways that you can alter work practices or get equipment to avoid repetitive actions or prolonged tasks for example instead of engaging in mechanical sanding, get a mechanical sander to make the job less repetitive.  To protect yourself from unnecessary inhalation of particles while sanding, make sure to use hearing and breathing protection.

Also be cautious when handling hazardous substances, which painters often do. Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) should always be available for substances classified as hazardous (e.g. cement, lime, hydrochloric acid) and workers should be appropriately trained in the safe handling of these. It is also important that these hazardous substances are safely stored, never in food containers. Also make use of the appropriate PPE when handling hazardous substances.

Painters are often also exposed to the sun because of extended hours of work outdoors. Ensure that appropriate PPE is utilised as well as proper skin protection in the form of sunscreen. Also keep hydrated because a sun stroke or other heat related side effect may prove directly or indirectly fatal (for example if you are working at a height and pass out you may fall to the ground and be killed).

These are the general hazards that painters should be aware of however different sites may present additional hazards, that is why site specific safety training is so important.

If you’re new to construction, here’s an outline of the important construction safety induction course

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