Whenever human workers are involved in any occupation involving potentially dangerous activities, safety is immensely crucial. In the automotive industry, chemicals will become atomized when spraying solvents and liquids, and if an ignition source is introduced to the equation, the potential or risk for fire increases. With this in mind, those in the automotive finishing industry that utilize liquid application methods must take sufficient time to educate themselves and employ proper local and national safety standards.
Common Fire Causes and Risks When Working with Liquid Applications
A flammable material, air or any kind of oxidizer, and an ignition source or spark are all that’s needed to cause an explosion or full-blown fire. These elements are usually present when a liquid application is involved, where the process puts out millions of flammable, superfine particles in the area. Different paint types have varying combustibility levels. However, even waterborne coatings have tiny amounts of flammable compounds. Likewise, if automotive paint booth systems aren’t maintained properly, overspray can quickly build up on the walls, floor, and ducts of the booth. Additionally, spray equipment and guns could likewise contain paint particles enough to create risks since the use of equipment that produces sparks can quickly create an ignition source.
Basic Safety Rules
The risks mentioned above are very valid reasons to get rid of potential dangers and maintain a safe working environment for your workers. To ensure safety and compliance, here are some basic rules according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:
- Storage – All hazardous liquids, including paint, must be stored in dangerous material storage structures. These are fire-rated and portable lockers or buildings that feature built-in ventilation, explosion-resistant walls, and chemical and weather-resistant coating.
- Application – All liquid coatings must be applied in automotive paint booth systems with adequate airflow to redirect overspray from the item being painted, walls, and floors and into the exhaust system. Workers must always be outfitted in proper painting clothing and gear when applying paint and cleaning equipment. Mats specifically made for particle control can be utilized for preventing static. Prepping and painting must always be separate to avoid sparks and prevent contaminants from mixing.
- Mixing – Mixing rooms offer a controlled space for the safe mixing of paints. While you can store certain paints in mixing rooms, they have containment bases for airflow and spills that will enable contaminants and chemicals to be contained when workers are mixing paint.
- Maintenance and Cleanup – It is immensely important to change the exhaust and intake filters because overloaded or clogged filters will impede proper airflow throughout the paint booth. In turn, this will negatively impact their ability to move contaminants out of the booth. And in more severe cases, clogged and dirty filters could create explosive or flammable conditions.
It’s also vital to keep in mind that relevant local authorities might require you to adhere to further safety and prevention standards and how strict the authorities are with you will depend heavily on your safety record. Lastly, follow all the safety measures and maintenance instructions that came with all your equipment, train workers regularly, and always stay vigilant.