By Rob Cunningham, ANAD Safety OfficeJuly 11, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- On sunny afternoons, when people travel through town and drive past car dealerships with new models out front, the first impression is often the color of the vehicle.
Just like with new car dealerships, whenever a combat vehicle or artillery equipment leaves Anniston Army Depot after an overhaul or repair, the first impression is the paint job.
To have fantastic looking paint jobs on the equipment as it leaves the installation, painters have a multitude of safety tasks and pre-checks to complete prior to applying the first coat of paint.
With most painting applications, the paint itself can be flammable or, in some cases, hazardous.
Each time a paint product is used, the Safety Data Sheet provides critical information required to protect the painter from hazards, such as using proper ventilation or personal protective equipment.
The proper ventilation or PPE can include chemical resistant protective clothing, gloves, footwear and, most importantly, respiratory protection equipment.
Here are some tips for proper care of respiratory protection equipment:
• All respirators must be stored to protect them from damage, contamination, dust, sunlight, extreme temperatures, excessive moisture and damaging chemicals.
• Ensure hoods are hung to prevent dust accumulation. Do not tuck the cape into the helmet.
• If you use a plastic bag for storage and the respirator has excessive moisture from sweat, ensure the bag is over the respirator with the bag opening facing toward the floor and leave bottom of bag open to allow drying of moisture and prevent mildew.
• Respirators should never be left in a paint booth or paint spray area.
Spray finishing operations, which use flammable and combustible liquids can create an explosive atmosphere. That's why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Fire Prevention Association enforce the following safety controls on spray paint booths.
• Three feet of clearance must be maintained on all sides and above the spray booth.
• All areas of the booth must be readily accessible for maintenance and cleaning.
• Mechanical ventilation system must be equipped a with noncombustible filter system.
• Smoking must be strictly prohibited and signs posted.
• The booth must be protected with an approved automatic fire protection system.
• All metal parts of the booth must be electrically grounded to prevent static discharge.
When using paint or other flammable products, non-sparking tools must be used.
Non-sparking tools are made of materials which do not contain iron (non-ferrous metals) and, therefore, reduce the risk of a spark being created while the tool is in use.
Non-sparking tools protect against both fire and explosion in environments that may contain flammable liquids, vapors, dusts or residues.
Paints and other flammable painting products should be stored in flammable cabinets or areas designated for the storage of flammable items.
Flammable Locker Requirements:
• Lockers must have a label: "Flammable -- Keep Fire Away."
• Routinely inspect all lockers.
• Know your chemicals -- consult the SDS.
• Keep all containers in the locker closed.
• Always store materials in a neat and orderly manner.
• Eliminate potential ignition sources.
• Never store combustible materials (paper, cardboard) on, in or near flammable lockers.
• Don't place the flammable storage locker by an exit door or in a stairwell.
All spraying areas should be kept as free from the accumulation of deposits of combustible residues as practical, with cleaning conducted daily, if necessary.
Scrapers, spuds or other tools used for cleaning purposes should be of non-sparking material.
Housekeeping is a valuable practice in all shops, but very critical in paint booths and paint spray areas.
Keeping paint and paint related products covered and bonded or grounded are important measures to keep employees save.
These practices are especially necessary when mixing paint and cleaning up afterward.
There is a lot more to being a painter at ANAD than just spraying paint.
The next time you see a freshly painted M-1 tank, Stryker or piece of artillery ready to move out to the Soldiers, Marines or other customers in the field, remember depot employees are working safely to make the equipment look new again.