General Health & Safety
The notes on these pages concern potential hazards involved in the handling of paints and thinners.
They are not exhaustive and do not cover all eventualities that may arise during the use of paints. Advice should be sought on the local regulations governing the use and storage of paints and full recognition given to any regulations.
All paints/thinners are a combination of chemicals, most of which are hazardous, e.g. organic solvents, epoxy resins, isocyanates etc. These chemicals have the potential to cause skin, eye, nose and throat irritation and individuals demonstrate a wide variation in their degree of tolerance to them. Some may have no immediate problems, then suddenly develop dermatitis or other allergic reactions following only minor contact. Others may develop these reactions on first contact with only small amounts.
There is no readily available method to identify individuals who may be affected. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid direct contact with these chemicals wherever possible by the use of:
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Industrial Hygiene
- Working Environment
Personal Protective Equipment
The following protective equipment should be used to prevent paint/thinners coming into contact with skin and eyes.
- These should be applied to the forearms, face etc. and used as a complement to protective clothing. It must be stressed that barrier creams have limitations and may give a false sense of security. They are not to be regarded as substitutes for gloves, masks etc. Should paint be splashed on the skin, remove it with soap and water or a proprietary industrial skin cleaner - NEVER USE SOLVENT. Use a non-greasy and silicone-free type of barrier cream. Reapply the cream every time the face, hands and forearms are washed.
Solvent Impermeable Gloves
- Gloves should be washed free of contamination before taking them off by dipping in the appropriate product thinners, followed by cleaning with soap and water.
- Wear sensible working clothes that cover as much of the body as possible. If clothes become soaked in paint/thinners, change them IMMEDIATELY taking care to avoid contamination of the hands or other parts of the body. Thoroughly wash soiled garments separately with soap and water before re-use.
- Eyes are particularly sensitive, so wear a full face mask to ensure eye and face protection whenever splashing is expected, i.e. during decanting, mixing of product or application and especially overhead work. If paint/thinners are splashed in the eyes flood them immediately with fresh water for at least 10 minutes - SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE IMMEDIATELY.
For brush application, usually all that is required is a face shield. However, if signs of narcosis such as dizziness are felt, a chemical cartridge mask should be used. A dust filter is not suitable.
For spray application, a filter mask should be used to trap atomised paint particles. In enclosed spaces or where overspray and solvent fumes are concentrated, a chemical cartridge mask should be used.
- When spraying isocyanate-containing products an air fed respirator should be used at all times. Additional information on the safe handling and application of isocyanate containing products is available from the Occupational Safety and Health Departments. It is recommended that the latest information be obtained and read prior to using these products.
The following should be observed in order to avoid irritation, sensitisation or any other health problems.
- Persons with known skin sensitivity or a previous skin condition should be excluded from using/applying paints unless medical permission has been obtained.
- Food and drink should not be consumed, stored or prepared in areas where paint is stored or applied.
- In cases of accidental paint ingestion, SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY.
- Do not smoke whilst using/applying paints.
- Remove protective clothing and wash hands before meals or use of toilet.
- Use a barrier cream for exposed skin when covering with protective clothing is not practical.
- Use re-fatting or moisturising creams at the end of the shift.
- Do not expose cuts or abrasions to paints and solvents.
- Store in original container, tightly closed, and in a cool place away from foodstuffs.
- Avoid breathing vapour. Use with adequate ventilation and use an appropriate solvent vapour/ particulate respirator.
- When mixing or applying, wear impervious gloves.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while using.
- Remove protective clothing and wash hands and face before meals and after work.
- Avoid contamination of any water supply with product or empty container.
- Wash splashes of product from skin and eyes immediately.
The workplace should be provided with adequate ventilation so as to keep fumes to a minimum. To avoid the inhalation of solvent fumes/paint vapours and dust the following precautions must be taken:-
- In spaces that are difficult to ventilate or where solvent fumes are likely to accumulate, an air fed hood/mask should be used.
- Always consider where fumes are being vented. Solvent fumes are heavier than air and push breathable air upwards. They can flow down drains and ventilation ducts and affect people in adjacent spaces.
- Dizziness, drunkenness or headaches are indicators that solvent fumes may affect you. Move to an area of fresh air and do not return until ventilation has improved.
- If breathing of fumes results in collapse, the person concerned should be carefully removed to an area of fresh air and allowed to recover gradually. Forced exercise is inadvisable.
- Never enter an area where fumes have or could have accumulated without wearing breathing apparatus.
- The mist of paint particles created when spraying should not be inhaled. To prevent such inhalation:
- Use a dust cartridge respirator in well-ventilated areas to filter out paint particles.
(It is important to change the cartridge regularly).
- In areas of poor ventilation or where there are any doubts, always use an air fed hood/mask.
- Never use a rag over the mouth as a filter. They are poor filters and liable to become soaked and allow paint to come into direct contact with the mouth.
Mix all solvent-based products in a well-ventilated area. The use of a power mixer will enable the operator to keep their head a suitable distance from the mix, as during this time high concentration of fumes may be emitted.
Fire & Explosion:
Once a paint container is opened solvent vapours are released. The flash point of the paint is the lowest temperature at which the paint gives off sufficient vapour to form an inflammable mixture with air. If the flash point is lower than or close to ambient air temperature there is a potential risk of fire or explosion. It requires only a spark or flame to set if off. If the flash point exceeds the ambient air temperature the risk is small. However, no naked flames, cigarettes, matches or other potential ignition sources should be allowed in the areas where paint is being used or stored. Precautions should also be taken to avoid sparks due to metal-to-metal contact or from electrical appliances. It should also be noted that solvent vapours are heavier than air and can travel great distances from their source as a thin layer above the floor.
Should a fire involving paint or solvents occur
- Do not use water to attempt to extinguish. Solvents float on water and this may spread the fire.
- Use a dry chemical, foam or CO2 extinguisher.
- Protect yourself from fumes with breathing apparatus.
Should a spillage of paint/thinners occur the following procedures should be followed. If the spill is of a major nature the relevant local authority and the fire service should be contacted immediately.
- Do not allow spilt material to enter drains or run off into waterways.
- Absorb spilled material with sand, earth or other absorbent material. Collect and seal in properly labelled drums for subsequent disposal in an approved facility.
- Ventilate area to remove fumes.
- Triple rinse (or equivalent), render container incapable of holding other product and offer for disposal into a sanitary landfill.
- Do not discharge effluent containing these products into lakes, streams, ponds, estuaries, oceans or other waterways. Do not discharge to the sewer system. Do not allow chips of dusts generated during paint removal to enter water. Do not apply directly to water by cleaning of equipment or disposal of wastes.
For further information in the case of emergencies call Chemwatch on 00800 24362255 (Intl), or the manufacturer
- drink promptly a large quantity of milk or water. Avoid alcohol. Get medical attention.
- Flush eyes for a minimum of 15 minutes with running water and get medical attention.
- Wash with plenty of soap and water.
- Remove victim to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. Get medical attention.
Poison Centre & MSDS’s
In the event of accidental poisoning in New Zealand, the Poison and Hazardous Chemicals National Information Centre in Dunedin should be contacted on 0800 764 766. In Australia the Poisons Information Centre should be contacted on 131126. These centres hold file copies of material safety data sheets (MSDS’s) for all Altex Coatings products.
MSDS’s are also available upon request from Altex Coatings Ltd in Queensland: +61 7 5594 9522 or Altex Coatings Limited Head Office in Tauranga: +64 7 541 1221
As a requirement of our obligation to the HSNO Approvals, we have on our entire antifouling range, we make the following information available to you.
These products contain a combination of flammable, toxic and ecotoxic components, which therefore require care during application. This will involve ensuring that you are carrying out all preparation (including sanding) in a manner so as to minimise the risk of spreading sanding dusts over other persons or property. A similar issue arises with the handling of the paint, by ensuring that you are wearing ALL of the required personal protective equipment BEFORE you open the can. Once opened, the flammability risk is of major concern, so please ensure that the area contains no ignition sources. Additionally there is a requirement to minimise any spills during the process of application - Take Care!
During the actual application process, (especially if spraying) there is a need to restrict/contain any overspray (spraydrift) so that it does not affect other persons, property or the environment. This means that you will need to be aware of the wind direction and strength. In addition to this, if the application of the product is being carried out within an enclosed area, then the operator must ensure that they do not exceed the Workplace Exposure Standards for the solvents.
Once the product is fully dried, the flammability risk is eliminated, the toxicity risk is reduced, but the ecotoxic risks remain the same, and will do so throughout the balance of the product’s life.
Disposal of the remaining product, the mixing containers etc., must be done so as not to risk polluting the environment, which will include the triple rinsing with solvent of the containers, and ensuring that the washings and remaining product are disposed of in an approved facility.
The product has been designed to reduce the growth of fouling on vessels and other underwater structure, and hence contains a number of biocides that pose significant risks especially to the aquatic environment throughout the life of the film.
These products have each been assigned an Environmental Exposure Limit (EEL), and monitoring of this against the Regional Coastal Plans can be carried out.
Removal of old antifouling films is an area of concern, with respect to toxicity and more importantly ecotoxicity. The old paint film will still contain a proportion of active biocide and therefore will need to be contained so that it does not contaminate the environment around the removal area. The flakes of old antifouling as they are removed may also cause a respiratory problem so ensure that the correct personal protective equipment (gloves, mask, overalls) are worn throughout this operation.
Once the entire old antifoul has been removed, the collected flakes need to be disposed of in an appropriate manner so as not to pollute the environment.
Another associated area of concern is the washing down procedure that may be carried out as this itself is designed to refurnish the active layer of the antifouling, and therefore the washings will contain quantities of the biocidal components. These will also need to be contained and disposed of in a manner that does not affect the environment.