Safety Comes First
Paint safety practices should always be followed, whenever you take on a house painting task. Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the safe use of your painting tools and equipment. It is also very important to recognize the inherent dangers involved with house painting.
Ladder safety is a major part of paint safety. Falling from ladders is an all too common occurrence. This can result in serious injuries or even death. Most ladder accidents occur as the result of careless or improper ladder usage.The United States Department of Labor provides a website outlining ladder safety precautions containing specific requirements designed to ensure worker safety. Additional information, about ladders, is available at the American Ladder Institute.
Some ladder accessories are available to aid with ladder safety. They include ladder levelers, ladder stabilizers, ladder mitts, and paint pot hooks. These safety devices help to ensure proper ladder angle, stability and security.
Exposure to solid particles, spray mist, vapors, and fumes is an inherent part of house painting. Protecting your lungs from these hazards should not be overlooked. House painting preparation and paint application can create high levels of particulates and harmful vapors. Using a proper paint respirator is very important and worth the cost to purchase it.
Several different paint respirators (lung protection devices) are available. Some only offer protection from solid particles while others protect against harmful fumes. The paint respirator that you select should be determined according to the scope of your painting project.
Eye protection cannot be neglected. Your eyes may be exposed to paint chips, sanding dust, paint drips, spray mist, and solvents. All of these can cause damage to the eyes. Good paint safety practices include some type of eye protection. Wear safety glasses or goggles to avoid painful injuries.
The greatest concern for your hands, from house painting, is chemical exposure. Harmful chemicals can be absorbed through the skin causing potential medical problems.
Disposable latex gloves offer some chemical protection by creating a simple barrier between your skin and the paint product. Because of their thin profile, these gloves allow greater dexterity than heavier gloves. They are a good choice while working with the painting tools.
Chemical resistant gloves offer protection for your hands against acids, paint strippers, caustics, and solvents. Many of the chemical resistant gloves use heavier materials that resist snags and tears. These gloves are the better choice for chemical exposure but they cause some limited dexterity and make it more difficult to work with tools.
Several accessories are available that offer paint protection from head to toe.
Lead Based Paints
Scraping and sanding old paint finishes can present paint safety problems, because of existing paint coatings containing lead. Federal regulations were enacted in 1978 banning the use of lead as a component in consumer paints. Houses built before the mid 1970s have a high probability of having been painted with lead based paints.
Do a lead-test on your house. This test can detect the presence of lead in your existing coats of paint. You can purchase a lead-test kit at most paint stores. These are inexpensive and easy to use. There are several different kits available. A lead test kit is a worthwhile purchase if your home was built before 1978.
Scraping and sanding leaded paints can create paint chips and fine dust containing lead. This can create a hazard for you and the environment. It is best not to sand existing dry lead paint. If the existing paint has failed, it is better to use a liquid paint stripper and scrape carefully, collecting the paint chips for disposal. Use a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Vacuum) for clean-up. Make sure to wear a properly fitted, NIOSH-approved, half or full face-piece respirator to limit your exposure to lead. For a large area, you might consider contacting a certified expert in lead abatement.
Check all applicable laws and codes regarding lead based paints. Go to the EPA or call the National Lead Information Hotline at 1.800.424.LEAD for more information.
I cannot emphasize paint safety enough. Please take the extra time and the small extra expense, to protect you from any potential hazards. It is well worth the effort. Remember that safety always comes first.