Painting Safely: The Ultimate Guide to Painter’s Safety Equipment

No matter the industry, workplace safety is essential for every employee. All workers want to be in a safe and protected environment in order to work efficiently and effectively. Health and safety are crucial factors for all professions, trades, and industries, including commercial painting in Pleasant Hill, CA, to promote the wellness of employees, employers, and clients.

In the field of commercial painting, an employer of a paint service company has the legal and moral duty to look after the protection of its employees and clients. Wearing safety gear is necessary for employees who work in hazardous environments, and the company should be responsible for ensuring that their employees wear the essential protective equipment properly during work hours.

The risks in paint jobs

Many people view paint jobs as straightforward. But like many trades, professional paint jobs have their share of hazards. A stroke of the paintbrush, slide of the paint roller, or drizzle of the paint sprayer carries its own safety considerations.

Here are some of the risks associated with paint jobs:

  • Chemical exposure from paints, primers, thinners, cleaning products, etc., through inhalation or skin contact. 
  • Exposure to sanding dust can lead to occupational asthma, respiratory problems, and cancer
  • Exposure to mold and mildew
  • Trips and slips
  • Falls from heights
  • Falling objects
  • Exposure to mold and mildew
  • Extreme weather conditions, especially in exterior painting
  • High-frequency noise (which is common in commercial painting jobs)
  • Lead exposure (especially when working with older buildings)
  • Lack of proper ventilation
  • Confined spaces
  • Repetitive strain injury

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act in 1970 ensures and enforces safe workplace conditions and standards, ensuring that workers are safeguarded from the hazards that compromise their health. 

With only a few exceptions, OSHA requires employers to provide their workers with PPE free of charge.

If the employer doesn’t provide employees with the necessary PPEs, the employees may file a complaint with OSHA. If the employer violates OSHA regulations for PPE, they may face sanctions. Officials may impose a fine and require changes in work practices.

If the employer neglects to provide their employees with the proper safety equipment and protection, it can lead to professional implications. OSHA reports that about 40% of all US employees get injured at work every year. If employers neglect to comply with health and safety regulations, they can face a greater increase in workplace injury that, in turn, can lead to frequent absences and an increase in turnover from their staff.

Besides professional implications, non-compliance with occupational health and safety regulations can lead to adverse legal consequences. Non-compliance with industry health and safety guidelines is even considered a criminal offense. An employer can face serious legal consequences – including imprisonment – if they neglect their workers’ safety by not providing them with protection.

In fact, OSHA may issue citations or fines if the employees get seriously sick or injured because they weren’t provided protection by their employers. Employers are required to provide their workers with all the PPEs they need, especially if they work on dangerous projects or in hazardous environments.

Safety equipment for painters

Personal protective equipment PPE

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to protect the crew working with paint, primers, varnishes, thinners, and wood stains, as well as other things they may usually deal with like cleaning products, sanding dust, heat, cold, humidity, extreme weather temperatures, falling objects, working at heights, etc.

Respiratory protection

  • Respirator – A painting respirator is worn over the mouth and nose to keep the harmful paint vapors, sanding dust, and other contaminants out of the wearer’s breathing zone. The respirator should fit tightly and securely around the wearer’s face so that there’s no chance for the vapors and dust to get through the gaps in the mask. 
    • N95 mask – It is the most common type of respirator used by professional and DIY painters. It filters out at least 95% of airborne contaminants like paint fumes, mold spores, and sanding dust.
    • P100 respirator – A P100 respirator filters out at least 99% of airborne particles. You can use this respirator if you are using oil-based (alkyd) paints or if you are painting enclosed spaces with insufficient ventilation.
    • Powered respirator – This respirator filters and even purifies the air. It uses a pump to push the air into the hood the user wears.  

Eye and face protection

  • Goggles – A pair of goggles protect the wearer’s eye from splatters, fumes from paints and other chemicals, paint mist, sanding dust, and flying-object hazards while painting. Some goggles have tinted lenses to help block the sun’s ultraviolet rays when working outdoors or glare when working under bright lights.
  • Safety glasses – Safety glasses with side shields protect your eye area from fumes, contaminants, and flying object hazards such as floating sawdust. Many safety glasses are also tinted for protection against glare and the sun’s UV rays.
  • Face shield – A face shield guards your face from splashes, heat, glare, and flying particles. However, it doesn’t provide complete or reliable to your face, but it only acts as a secondary barrier the most. Wear the face shield over other protective eyewear and/or face mask

Protective clothing

  • Coveralls – Overalls have long sleeves and legs to protect the arms and legs from paint drips, and sanding dust, and a hood to protect the head from paint drips and splatters. 
  • Overalls – Overalls usually have a pair of trousers with a bib, holder, and loose straps to wear over the painter’s normal clothes. While some people tend to use the terms “overalls” and “coveralls” interchangeably, overalls do not usually cover the arms and the head like coveralls do. Overalls are ideal for light paint jobs or for indoor painting where the painter isn’t exposed to sunlight and other harsh weather elements.
  • Apron – An apron protects the wearer’s clothes underneath it from drips, splatters, splashes, spills, and smudges while painting. 
  • Safety vest or jacket – Painters working at significant heights are required to wear a high-visibility or reflective safety vest or jacket as protection from potential hazards. These vests and jackets enable the worker to be seen by others and alert that someone is present, especially in low-visibility situations.

Hand and foot protection

  • Gloves – Paints, primers, thinners, and cleaning products contain harsh chemicals that can cause rashes and severe skin allergies, while certain tools and machinery can cause scratches and cuts. Good gloves should be worn on both hands to protect them from those elements. They should snugly fit around the fingers, palms, wrists, and knuckles so that nothing gets into them. Some gloves are disposable, while others are reusable and can be washed properly after use.
  • Shoe covers keep dirt, grime, and other contaminants from entering the worksite and protect the painter’s shoes and any exposed skin from wet paint.  
  • Safety shoes and other footwear – The choice of shoes should depend on the present or potential hazards. It’s a good idea to assess the workplace and work activities that the employees work in. However, all safety shoes for the workplace should be slip-resistant and sufficiently protect the soles and toes because slips and falls can happen at any time, especially in wet, slippery, and greasy environments. For workers who are regularly exposed to high temperatures, they require a pair of shoes that can withstand extreme heat. High-cut safety boots are ideal for most workers, especially those who are exposed to rough or damp environments. They also help keep the feet comfortable, clean, and dry.

Fall protection equipment 

  • Hard hat – A hard hat protects the wearer’s head in the event of a possible impact caused by a falling object or collision during a fall.
  • High-visibility safety vest or jacket – Painters working at heights should wear a reflective safety vest or jacket for visibility and protection from potential hazards. Wearing safety vests allows the worker to be seen and alert that someone is present, especially in low-visibility situations.
  • Full-body harness or safety harness – It connects the wearer to the anchorage point, preventing that wearer from hitting the floor or ground in the event of a fall. Unlike a mere safety belt, a full-body harness distributes all forces of a fall onto one area of the wearer’s body, ensuring that the wearer is suspended upright right following a fall.
  • Connecting means – Connecting means serving as a bridge between the full-body harness and the anchorage connector. They usually consist of energy-absorbing components that help prevent fall injury. Some connectors feature a control system that enables the wearer to adjust the line as necessary. In addition, connectors include backup webbing and clips that connect the lanyard to the full-body harness. Some connectors include:
    • Lanyard – The lanyard connects the full-body harness to the anchor or lifeline with a line of energy-absorbing webbing.
    • Self-retracting lifelines – Self-retracting lifelines feature an automatic belay system that maintains constant tension on the line. The rope, cable, or webbing retracts into the housing unit connected to the anchorage.
    • Carabiners – A carabiner is a coupling link with a safety closure. Carabiners can serve as a good backup system and provide extra security.
    • Webbing – Webbing is a material that provides a strong but flexible backbone of a harness and ties all weight-bearing parts (belt, leg loops, belay loop) together. Traditionally, the webbing has been made from nylon, polyester, or other synthetic fibers.

Hearing protection equipment

  • Safety earplugs – Earplugs are inserted into the ear to prevent high-frequency noise from entering the ear and from the intrusion of water, dust, insects, cold, and strong winds.
  • Earmuffs – Earmuffs are worn to protect the ears from noise, as well as dust, and extreme temperature changes. In case of high-frequency noise or the worker has sensitive ears, earplugs and earmuffs can be worn together.

Safety gear maintenance and care

Work safety items of construction industry

To maintain the efficacy of PPE, the wearer should take care of them. If it is reusable, it must be cleaned and kept in good condition.

In the case of disposable PPE items, it is a good idea to keep a supply of them, such as suits, gloves, and shoe covers. They are useful especially for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high.

  • Always take care of your PPE.
  • Make sure to check your PPE before and after each use.
  • Always clean and sanitize your PPE for safer use.
  • After using your PPE, store them in a clean and dry place, free from sunlight, moisture, and contaminants.
  • Disposable PPE, such as disposable gloves and shoe covers, should be discarded once they are used.
  • Do not reuse disposable PPE, as this can also pose high levels of risk for accidental contamination.
  • Promptly repair or replace damaged PPE.
  • Do not share used PPE, as this practice can put you at risk for accidental contamination.
  • In case of loss, damage, or obvious defect on the PPE you are provided, promptly report it to authorities.

Training and Awareness

If PPE is a requirement, the employer should implement a solid PPE program. That program should address specific key issues: the present and potential hazards of a workplace; the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE; the training of employees; and monitoring the program to ensure its continuous effectiveness.

Employers are required to train their employees who must use PPE, while employees must be encouraged to undergo PPE training to make them aware of the following:

  • When PPE is necessary
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to put on, take off, adjust, and wear PPE properly
  • The limitations of PPE
  • The proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE

The employer has a duty and responsibility to make sure that each employee demonstrates a complete understanding of the PPE training (such as the language in the training used that the employee understands) as well as the ability to properly use PPE before they are permitted to work in environments that call for the use of PPE.

In case the employer believes that the employee fails to demonstrate an understanding of the PPE training, the employee should be trained again. Other conditions requiring retraining or additional training of employees include changes in the work environment or in the type of required PPE that make the earlier training no longer applicable


Safety is essential to any workplace for a couple of reasons. The first answer is obvious – no one wants to get hurt, right? No reputable painter wishes your home or commercial property damaged or any of your assets or investments put at risk while painting them. The second answer is less obvious but just as important – a focus on safety indicates a sense of responsibility, commitment, and respect on the part of the painting contractor.

These are the hallmarks of the best painters in the Bay Area. Consistent and rigorous pursuit of quality, safety, improvement, standards, and the use of the latest technology tells you a painting contractor is committed to their work, the maintenance of your property, and the well-being of everyone involved.

Whenever a commercial property has its building painted, they want to know that their employees, customers, and those doing the painting are kept safe. Custom Painting, Inc. has more than 40 years of experience painting commercial properties of all sizes, as well as residential properties. We understand the importance of safety for each painting project. Contact Custom Painting, Inc. by calling 925-686-0903 to set up an appointment to discuss your painting needs. You can also complete the Contact Us form, and we’ll get back to you.