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Painting In Confined Spaces

Posted Sep 20, 2013 by David Guy

 Painting In Confined Spaces

Creating a safe work environment takes communication, training and an investment of time and money. Safety should be the number one concern in the construction field, both by ensuring that a job site is safe for the workers during the job and for the owners after the job is completed. Unfortunately some contractors do not allocate enough of their budget to devote to safe work practices. A painting contractor working in the industrial sector should maximize safety training to allow their team the best opportunity to work in the safest environment possible. Experience working in hazardous environments, such as confined spaces, is also a critical element. A documented safety plan and confined space certifications are your assurance of a painting firm’s respect and attention to a safety first mentality.

Confined space painting is a niche in the coating and painting field that is often associated with hazardous work environments. OSHA, which as many readers are aware is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the government organization that oversees workplace safety, has a set definition for confined spaces. A space with minimal entry and exit points, which is big enough to allow a worker to enter the space and work but is not made to allow for sustained occupancy, is considered to be a confined space as per OSHA definitions. Below ground painting, work on ground storage water tanks, and tank sandblasting and painting are great examples of jobs that would have a contractor working in a confined space, as it is easy to see that these environments have enough room for the contractor to operate, but none are obviously meant to sustain living occupants for any extended periods of time.

In order to effectively combat the hazards found in these confined space work sites, the first step would be to perform a job hazard analysis to determine what the specific dangers of the particular site are going to be and begin to formulate a plan to work with or around them, keeping workers safe. When evaluating the possible hazards that will be encountered on the job sites, it is also crucial that work being done on the job site by other contractors is also taken into consideration. For example, proper ventilation of one job site may not only be ineffective but in fact dangerous if the dangerous fumes or dust is blown right into the work space of another contractor working close by. Communication between all contractors and safety egress procedures are key to ensuring all workers are safe without compromising others. To ensure that all standards are met, a permit for confined space work is required, which takes into account many things, including whether or not the space will be entered and by who and when, known hazards, potential hazards, etc. In fact, when a permit is required to contract in confined space work environments such as tank cleaning, an attendant, in this case a tank attendant, is required to be present to ensure only those who are authorized to enter the space can enter, as well as perform other duties according to the specific job permit.

The selection decisions for choosing an industrial painting and sandblasting contractor should be based on ensuring a safe work environment. It is critical to hire an industrial painter who has experience evaluating job site hazards, communicating between contractors and ensuring regulations are met to permitted standards. Hazardous atmosphere, limited egress and entry, oxygen deficiency, and physical hazards are some of the many factors that must be considered when bidding on a project of this nature. It is crucial, however, that the contractor chosen is both experienced and knowledgeable, one that can meet and exceed OSHA standards for both safety and liability reasons. Readers on the east coast in NJ, NY, PA or CT in need of further information about proper confined space working procedures can consult a local contractor such as Alpine Painting, online or at 866-596-0349.


By Dave Scaturro, Sales Director for Alpine Painting.


Credit to: Hough, Kyle, and Duane Hough. "Thinking Outside The Box." Paint Square. Jul 2013: 38-53. Print.

Dave Scaturro
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