Alert: Paints, primers an explosion hazard when sprayed at construction sites


Photo: SANSA Images

Olympia, WA – Spraying ignitable liquids such as paint at construction sites can lead to explosions and serious injuries, warns a new hazard alert from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

A “substantial amount” of paint vapor and mist can be released when spray equipment is used to apply an ignitable liquid finish. This overspray can drift into surrounding areas, mixing with the air and accumulating in enclosed or unventilated areas, according to the hazard alert. If an ignition source is present, the overspray could ignite and cause an explosion.

This was the case during a 2012 residential construction project in Seattle. A painter had recently finished spraying a flammable primer onto several uninstalled doors in an unventilated basement room. The overspray drifted out of the basement and ignited. Four workers were injured and the worksite was destroyed.

To prevent the risk of fire, explosion and inhalation hazards, general contractors and supervisors should keep the following in mind:

  • Restrict spraying of ignitable liquids to off-site locations equipped with safety features.
  • Inform all contractors of the dangers of spraying ignitable liquids, and make contractual agreements to ensure all spraying is done off-site.
  • Check with local fire departments for fire codes that cover ignitable liquid spraying.