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Shipyard Employment eTool: Shipbreaking
General Requirements Shipbuilding Ship Repair Shipbreaking Barge Cleaning

Shipbreaking » Surface Preparation for Removal of Hazardous Materials


Figure 1: Removal of paint from vessel's hull
Figure 1: Removal of paint from vessel's hull.

Figure 2: Workers with respirators, ear muffs and other PPE
Figure 2: Workers with respirators, ear muffs and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

Surface preparation in shipbreaking involves removing of hazardous materials such as paints containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead as well as flammable or combustible liquids before conducting hot work or salvage operations. Methods include:

Surface preparation may range from simply wiping down equipment to totally stripping off coating. Hazards associated with surface prep may include:

After the spaces or surfaces are evaluated and the cleaning process is complete, the shipyard must determine what personnel, equipment, and materials are required for the surface preparation and conduct a hazard assessment for PPE. See PPE for Surface Preparation. [29 CFR 1915.152(b)]

Surface Preparation and Preservation (1915 Subpart C) does not apply to shipbreaking operations, however many of the precautions in this module are good work practices to protect workers.

Note: Confined space entry is one of the leading hazards associated with barge cleaning. Review the Shipbreaking: Confined or Enclosed Spaces and Other Dangerous Atmospheres chapter for information on how to protect workers from this hazard.



Toxic Cleaning Solvents (for example, mineral spirits, diesel fuel, degreasers)
Figure 3: Worker protected from toxic fumes with SCBA respirator
Figure 3: Worker protected from toxic fumes with SCBA respirator.

Surface preparation may range from simply wiping down to totally stripping off coating. Cleaning solvents and degreasers may expose workers to the following:

In addition, a hazard assessment must be conducted for selecting appropriate PPE. See PPE for Surface Preparation. [29 CFR 1915.152(b)]

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Chemical Removers (for example, paint stripper, methylene chloride)
Figure 4: Limited access makes it more difficult for workers to exit to escape hazards
Figure 4: Limited access makes it more difficult for workers to exit to escape hazards.

Chemical paint strippers and removers used for surface preparation include corrosive acids, (for example, hydrochloric and phosphoric), alkalis (for example, sodium hydroxide/lye), chlorinated hydrocarbons (for example, trichloroethane) and carcinogens (for example, methylene chloride). These chemicals may present severe eye, skin and respiratory exposure hazards.

Paint strippers and removers potentially expose workers to:

In addition, a hazard assessment must be conducted for selecting appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). See PPE for Surface Preparation. [29 CFR 1915.152(b)]

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Mechanical Removers (e.g., abrasive blasting, needle gunning and grinding)
Figure 5: Worker sandblasting
Figure 5: Worker sandblasting.

Figure 6: Mechanical removal of paint from vessel's hull
Figure 6: Mechanical removal of paint from vessel's hull.

Surface prep includes mechanical paint removal operations such as abrasive blasting, flame removal, use of power tools (for example, needleguns, scalers, sanding) and the use of high-pressure equipment. These operations may expose workers to:

Some of these operations may also be considered Hot Work. In addition, a hazard assessment must be conducted for selecting appropriate PPE. See PPE for Surface Preparation. [29 CFR 1915.152(b)]

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