Surface Preparation » Toxic Cleaning Solvents

Surface preparation may range from a simple wipe down to a total stripping of coating.

Cleaning solvents and degreasers may expose workers to the following:

Figure 2: Drums and containers of flammable cleaning solvents.

Potential Hazards

Fire and explosions may be caused by

  • Flammable and combustible cleaning solvents such as Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK), mineral spirits, and diesel fuel/oil.
  • Liquids with high flash points (greater than 100 F) may present a fire or explosion hazard when applied as a fine mist.
  • Airborne particulate or dust.
  • Hydrogen gas generated during cleaning processes.
  • Reactive cargos such as iron-ore, fertilizer, or incompatible chemicals.
  • Painting. See Painting and Other Coating Operations [29 CFR 1915.35].
Figure 3: Worker spray painting in enclosed space increases fire hazard.
Figure 4: Warning sign clearly informs workers of fire and explosion hazards of smoking and hotwork in a spray area.

Requirements and Example Solutions

Figure 5: Shipyard Competent Person testing flammability and other hazards in spray area.
Figure 6: Workers protected from toxic cleaning solvents.

Potential Hazard

Toxic vapors or corrosive mists produced by chemical paint and preservative removers may present significant health hazards including oxygen-deficient atmospheres. When used in confined or enclosed spaces these agents produce vapors that are often heavier than air. This can cause displacement of air, reducing oxygen levels, which may be fatal.

Note: Paint strippers often contain methylene chloride, which has additional requirements.

Figure 7: Ventilation provided for painting in confined space.

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • Ensure adequate ventilation to maintain concentrations below the PEL. [29 CFR 1915.32(a)(2)]
  • The may require continual monitoring to determine air concentrations are within the PELs and below IDLH levels. If they are not, additional engineering controls (e.g., ventilation), administrative controls or PPE (e.g. respirators) must be used. [29 CFR 1915.32(a)(3)]
  • Airline respirators may be necessary if ventilation is not adequate.
  • Respirators must comply with 29 CFR 1915.154. [29 CFR 1910.134]
Figure 8: Airline respirator for use when ventilation does not provide adequate safety.

Additional Resources

Figure 9: Worker exposed to health hazards from skin absorption and eye contact.

Potential Hazards

Toxic and corrosive paint strippers and removers can harm employees eyes and/or skin. Note: Workers should understand the hazards associated with the materials used and contained in the space. This includes training in accordance with the Hazard Communication Standard. [29 CFR 1915.1200] Hazards include:

  • Organ damage through skin or eye absorption.
  • Skin or eye burns and irritation.
  • Ingestion of contaminated food.
Figure 10: Worker protected from toxic paint fumes with proper PPE.

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • Appropriate PPE must be used.
  • Solvents spills must be cleaned up immediately. [29 CFR 1915.13(b)(5)]
  • Washing facilities must be available.
  • Workers must be trained in accordance with the Hazard Communication Standard. [29 CFR 1915.1200]
Figure 11: Worker protected by PPE from toxic paint fumes and spills while mixing paint.

Additional Resources

  • Hazard Communication Guidelines for Compliance. OSHA Publication 3111, (2000).
  • Hazard Communication. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
Figure 12: Eye wash station.
  • Fixed or portable eye wash stations/safety showers should meet ANSI Z358.1-1998: Emergency Eye Wash and Shower Equipment.
Figure 13: Improper practice - Ventilation hoses blocking exit from opening.

Potential Hazards

When working in confined or enclosed spaces workers may become trapped and unable to exit due to

  • Improperly located equipment.
  • Ventilation ducts and hoses running through the opening.
Figure 14: Special ventilation hose (flat) to avoid blocking exit.

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • When employees work in confined spaces with limited access, the access must not be blocked or impeded by ventilation ducts, hoses or other equipment. [29 CFR 1915.76(b)(2)]
  • More than one means of access must be provided where practical. [29 CFR 1915.76(b)(1)]
  • Additional openings should be provided for ducts, hoses, and other equipment.
Figure 15: Two access holes for equipment or access.
Figure 16: Improper practice - Wet and oily surfaces create slipping hazard.

Potential Hazards

Workers performing surface preparation are exposed to slick conditions and tripping hazards.

  • Slipping and falling on oily decks.
  • Tripping over equipment, hoses, and vessel structures.
Figure 17: Improper practice - Tripping hazards due to poor housekeeping.

Requirements and Example Solutions

Figure 18: Lead racks used to remove tripping hazards (welding leads, hoses, etc.) from the deck.
Figure 19: Improper practice - Improper use of step ladder.

Potential Hazards

Fall hazards are a leading cause of shipyard fatalities. Shipyard employees are often required to work in dangerous environments that may include fall hazards. Accidents involving elevation equipment such as ladders and scaffolds are often serious, even fatal.

  • Falls from ladders.
  • Falls from scaffolds.
  • Falls from open deck edges.
  • Falls into open holes.
Figure 20: Improper practice - Several unguarded deck openings.

Requirements and Example Solutions

Guarding of Deck Openings and Edges

  • Openings and deck edges must be guarded. [29 CFR 1915.73]
  • Flush manholes and other small openings must be guarded after opening. [29 CFR 1915.73(b)]
  • During the installation of guards on large openings and deck edges, fall protection (e.g., harness with lanyard) must be used. [29 CFR 1915.73(d)]
  • When floor plates or gratings (e.g., bilges, engine rooms, pump rooms, machinery spaces) are removed, the openings must be guarded or planked. [29 CFR 1915.73(f)]
Figure 21: Properly guarded deck edges.Figure 22: Worker on scaffold protected by guardrails.

Fall Protection for Scaffold Work

  • Guardrails or other appropriate fall protection shall be used when working on scaffolds five feet above surfaces. [29 CFR 1915.71(j)]
  • Fall protection must be used during the installation of guards on scaffolds. [29 CFR 1915.73(d)]
  • Maritime Labor/Industry recommends that personal fall protection including lanyards and harnesses be used and secured during installation of guardrails.
Figure 23: Full body suit can increase potential heat related illnesses for worker.

Potential Hazards

Environmental hazards include temperature, humidity, and air movement within the work area. A combination of PPE use, heat producing equipment, work activity, and environmental conditions can cause temperature related illnesses.

Heat related illnesses include:

  • Heat Stress
  • Heat Stroke
  • Heat Cramps
  • Dehydration
Figure 24: Air supplied to hood also reduces heat related problems.

Cold related illnesses include:

  • Hypothermia
  • Frost Bite

Additional Resources

  • OSHA Technical Manual (OTM). OSHA Directive TED 01-00-015 [TED 1-0.15A], (January 20, 1999). Identifies heat stress as part of the evaluation process in the following:
    • Heat Stress. Contains useful sections on the signs and symptoms of heat stress, sampling methods, control suggestions, and guidelines for investigating heat stress in the workplace.
  • Occupational Heat Exposure. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • Thermal Stress. ACGIH TLV Booklet.
Figure 25: Workers can be trained to recognize and avoid temperature related hazards.

Example Solutions

The following are recommended for heat related illnesses:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Use a cooling vest.
  • Take breaks in shaded or cooled areas.
  • Use ventilation.
  • Reduce the inner temperature of work spaces by using water sprinklers on outside metal surfaces.
  • Conduct awareness training.

It is recommended that the following be implemented to prevent cold related illnesses:

  • Wear appropriate insulated PPE.
  • Use warming areas for breaks.
  • Conduct awareness training.
Figure 26: Portable electrical tools must be double insulated or properly grounded.

Potential Hazards

Employees who work with or around electrical equipment in wet or damp locations have an increased risk of getting shocked or electrocuted due to:

  • Faulty electrical connection in power tools.
  • Open lighting parts.
  • Broken insulation on power cords.
Figure 27: Worker inspecting broken insulation on power cable.

Requirements and Example Solutions

  • Portable electrical tools must be grounded or double insulated. [29 CFR 1915.132(a)]
  • Temporary lighting must be grounded. [29 CFR 1915.82(b)(8)]
  • Power and lighting cables must be inspected by a person competent to evaluate electrical hazards. (Note: This is not the Shipyard Competent Person). [29 CFR 1915.36(a)(5)]
Figure 28: Visual inspection takes defective welding tong out of service.
  • All electrical tools or equipment should undergo a visual inspection prior to use.
  • All portable electric hand tools and temporary lighting systems should utilize Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI).
  • Electrical tools and equipment should correspond with the requirements of the job.
  • Electrical equipment and tools should be used with proper circuit protection for the voltage and amperage used.
  • Only qualified electricians should attempt repair of electrical tools and equipment in use.
  • A Ground Assurance Program should be in place for all electrical tools and equipment used including:
    • Records of tools inspected and repaired.
    • Records of electrical boxes inspected and repaired.
    • Records of electrical extension cords inspected and repaired.
    • Recall of records of the above.
  • The requirements of the Ground Assurance Program should be performed on a regular basis.