Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor

Process: Surface Preparation and Preservation



Explosive Atmosphere + Ignition Source = EXPLOSION

The vapors produced by volatile solvents used in spray painting can cause fires and explosions. A spark from electrical equipment or static discharge can be enough to ignite volatile vapors.


Solution 1: Monitoring
photo of workers spray painting

Using a handheld meter to monitor for flammable gas concentration, which is typically expressed as a percent of the lower explosive limit (LEL).

Solution 2: Ventilation
photo of venilation

photo of venilation

Adequate ventilation must be provided to prevent paint-related explosions and fires which can result in serious injury or death.

Solution 3: Identification
Warning sign - Spraying 124 White - No Smoking - No Hot Work - Shift - 1st - L/P - Joe Painter - Location - STDB Helo Hanger - Start Date - 10-17-2000 - Finish Date - 10/27/2000

Posting warnings can inform other workers of fire and explosion risks related to shipyard painting processes.

Solution 4: Explosion-Proof Lighting
Photos A, B - Examples of Explosion Proof Lighting and Photo C - Example of a Non-Explosion Proof Lighing

Using explosion-proof lighting (e.g., examples A and B) is required in spaces where explosive vapors may reach 10 percent of the LEL. Non-explosion-proof lighting (e.g., example C) must never be used in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Solution 5: Authorization

Implement an effective hot-work permit system to ensure that other work will not create an ignition source in adjacent spaces or spaces where newly-applied paint is still curing. The hot-work permit process requires a competent person to test for fire or explosion hazards and then post written notice to prohibiting hot work if these hazards exist or permit work if absent; while implementing appropriate controls (e.g., atmospheric monitoring to verify that conditions within the space remain the same).


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