Surface Preparation >> Toxic Cleaning Solvents

Mechanical Removers

In shipbuilding, 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:

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

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.
  • Painting. See Painting [29 CFR 1915.35].
Figure 3: Warning sign clearly informs workers of fire and explosion hazards of smoking and hotwork in a spray area

Requirements and Example Solutions

Figure 5: Workers protected from toxic cleaning solvents

Potential Hazards

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.

Figure 6: 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 Shipyard competent person (SCP) 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 7: Airline respirator for use when ventilation does not provide adequate safety

Additional Resources

Figure 8: Improper practice - Worker exposed to health hazards from skin absorption and eye contact

Potential Hazards

Toxic solvents 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 by absorption through the skin or eye.
  • Eye or skin irritation.
  • Defatting of skin.

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.
Figure 10: Worker using washing facilities

Additional Information

  • Hazard Communication Guidelines for Compliance. OSHA 3111 Publication, (2000).
  • Hazard Communication. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • Fixed or portable eye wash stations/safety showers should meet ANSI Z358.1-1998: Emergency Eye Wash and Shower Equipment.
Figure 11: 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:

Figure 12: Special ventilation hose (flat) to avoid blocking exit
  • Improperly located equipment.
  • Ventilation ducts and hoses running through the opening.
Figure 13: Two access holes for equipment or access

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 14: Improper practice - Wet and oily surfaces create slipping hazard

Potential Hazards

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

Figure 15: Improper practice - Tripping hazards due to poor housekeeping
  • Slipping and falling on oily decks.
  • Tripping over equipment, hoses, and vessel structures.
Figure 16: Lead racks used to remove tripping hazards (welding leads, hoses, etc.) from the deck

Requirements and Example Solutions

Figure 17: Improper practice - Improper use of step ladder

Potential Hazards

Figure 18: Improper practice - Several unguarded deck openings

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 19: Properly guarded deck edges

Requirements and Example Solutions

Guarding of Deck Openings and Edges

  • Deck openings and 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 20: 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 21: 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 22: 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.
  • Heat Stress. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
Figure 23: 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 24: Portable electrical tools must be double insulated or properly grounded

Potential Hazards

Employees mixing or transferring flammable and combustible liquids with electrical equipment are exposed to increased risk of getting shocked or electrocuted due to:

  • Faulty electrical connection in power tools.
  • Open lighting parts.
  • Broken insulation on power cords.

Note: Arcing and spark producing tools are not to be used where flammable liquids are capable of creating a flammable atmosphere. [29 CFR 1915.36]

Figure 25: 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 26: 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.