Keeping your job site OSHA compliant is a concern of every project manager in the abrasive blasting industry. All of the most common blasting abrasives can cause lung damage with repeated exposure to dust. The dangers from putting dust into the air comes from the blasting media, as well as the material being blasted which is often lead paint and other toxic substances. Here are some tips for making sure your job site is up to OSHA standards.
- Identify environmental dangers before the job begins. You need to know if the material or coating being blasted is environmentally sensitive so you can plan accordingly. OSHA provides a free on site consultation program for advice on potential health issues.
- Use personal protective equipment with respirators and leather gloves. Employers must establish a comprehensive respiratory protection program. OSHA requires that the respiratory equipment covers the head, neck and shoulders. Respirators must be approved by NIOSH with a positive pressure blasting helmet. Remember that clean up crews and other workers in the area also require this equipment. (Buy safety equipment for abrasive blasting)
- Contain the spread of dust using barriers and curtains to prevent exposure to workers outside of the active blasting area.
- Use a dust collection system. Within the contained area, a dust collector is used for ventilation and to remove particles from the air. There are also dust collectors with grit recovery systems that will help you save money on abrasives. (Rent dust collections systems)
- Use dustless blasting equipment. Wet blasting equipment produces far fewer airborne particles. Generally, dust collection systems are not required when using vapor/wet blasting equipment. (Rent dustless vapor blasting equipment)
- Use a decontamination trailer. When blasting asbestos or lead, it is good to have a decontamination trailer on site so that workers can rinse their protective equipment before it is stored. (Rent decontamination trailers)
- Provide wash stations for workers to use before eating or drinking. Storage of street clothes should be separate from storage of work clothes and protective equipment.
- Wash all equipment exposed to hazardous dust, including tarps, tools, curtains, etc.
- Provide hearing protections. Employers must use a hearing conservation program.
- Train all workers on the proper safety protections, hygiene requirements, and equipment required to stay safe.
- Review the safety data sheets (SDS) for all products used during the process.
What not to do
- Do not use compressed air to try to remove excess dust, as this will put more particles into the air.
- Do not do blasting while it is windy. Wind can spread the contaminated air into other areas where workers are not protected.
- Do not eat, drink, or smoke in blasting areas.
Here are links to OSHA materials related to abrasive blasting.
OSHA Fact Sheet: Protecting Workers from the Hazards of Abrasive Blasting Materials
Abrasive Blasting Hazards in Shipyard Employment
OSHA Occupational Noise Standards
OSHA Free On-site consultation program
Respiratory Protection Standards
To rent or buy equipment for your next abrasive blasting job, contact Sandblast Solutions for all of your equipment needs. We can deliver all of the supplies and equipment you need to be safe and OSHA compliant on your project.