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Page last reviewed: 12/03/2007
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Spray Operations

Spray operations can present both physical and health hazards to those involved. The OSHA ventilation standard for general industry (29 CFR 1910.94) defines a "spray-finishing operation" as the "employment of methods wherein organic or inorganic materials are utilized in dispersed form for deposit on surfaces to be coated, treated, or cleaned." This may include such diverse activities as the application of flammable and combustible liquids, such as paint, in a spray booth or spray area, electrostatic coating operations, and automobile body lining operations.

Spray operations are addressed in specific standards for the general industry, shipyard employment, marine terminals, longshoring, and the construction industry.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, directives (instructions for compliance officers), standard interpretations (official letters of interpretation of the standards) related to spray operations.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Shipyard Employment (29 CFR 1915)

Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)

  • 1917 Subpart G, Related terminal operations and equipment
    • 1917.153, Spray painting (See also section 29 CFR 1917.2, definition of hazardous cargo, materials, substance, or atmosphere)
    • 1917.158, Prohibited operations. States that abrasive blasting and spray painting are not allowed near cargo handling operations.

Longshoring (29 CFR 1918)

  • 1918 Subpart I, General working conditions
    • 1918.96, Maintenance and repair work in the vicinity of longshoring operations. States that abrasive blasting and spray painting are not allowed near longshoring operations.

Construction Industry (29 CFR 1926)

  • 1926 Subpart D, Occupational health and environmental controls
    • 1926.57, Ventilation. Contains extensive requirements for spray booths and other spray-finishing operations.
    • 1926.60, Methylenedianiline. Requires respiratory protection for spray-application processes.
    • 1926.62, Lead. Contains requirements for spray painting with lead paint.
    • 1926.66, Criteria for design and construction of spray booths

  • 1926 Subpart E, Personal protective and life saving equipment
  • 1926 Subpart F, Fire protection and prevention
    • 1926.152, Flammable liquids. States that the quantity of flammable or combustible liquids kept in the vicinity of spraying operations should be kept at a minimum and should not exceed a supply for one day or one shift.

  • 1926 Subpart I, Tools - hand and power
    • 1926.302, Power-operated hand tools. Contains requirements for high-pressure spray guns.

  • 1926 Subpart Z, Toxic and hazardous substances
    • 1926.1127, Cadmium. States that respiratory protection is necessary when using spray methods to apply materials containing cadmium.



Painting and paint removal present hazards requiring effective controls. Hazards include exposure to toxic materials and flammable or explosive mists, particulates, and vapors. Potential physical and health hazards may be effectively controlled by appropriate work procedures, controls, facility design, protective clothing, and equipment.

One of the most frequent types of spray operations is spray painting, with spray booths as a common engineering control used to protect workers. Spray booths serve two main purposes: (1) to protect the health of the painter and (2) to reduce fire and explosion hazards. The following references provide further examples and information to help control hazards during a spray operation.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages