08:49 am, Tuesday 14 September, 2010
WorkSafe WA has turned its attention to powder coating operations following a recent survey revealing a lack of awareness of the hazards associated with the procedure.
Joe Attard, WorkSafe’s Director Manufacturing, Transport and Service Industries, said the safety watchdog conducted a targeted inspection of 34 metropolitan and regional businesses. They found many businesses had limited knowledge of the risks involved and were conducting powder coating activities without taking adequate safety measures.
“The problem seems to be mostly with businesses that had previously contracted out their powder-coating needs to specialist operators,” Mr Attard said.
“But with rising costs, they are now doing the work in-house, using staff not adequately trained or equipped to do the work safely.
“Triglycidyl Isocyanurate (TGIC), for example is a very hazardous substance that is used in some powders to enhance finish and durability.”
He said most brands have removed the hazardous substance from their products, although it is still found in some powders available in WA.
“It is vital that businesses using these brands are aware of the extra precautions that need to be taken to ensure their workers are not put at risk.
“Other chemicals that are commonly used in the coating process, such as hydrofluoric acid, are extremely dangerous.
He added that electrical hazard associated with electrostatic spray painting must also be taken into account.
“For example, by earthing the equipment and the objects being coated, you can ensure maximum coating efficiency and reduce the level of free dust. This will prevent the build up of static charges capable of igniting the powder dust clouds.
Mr Attard said for businesses that involve powder coating activities, they need to facilitate safety training for their workers, have relevant measures in place including personal protective equipment, and specific first-aid procedures.
“Without these safeguards workers are at risk of serious health problems.”