Inspection program finds improvements in powder coating industry
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A proactive inspection program looking at safety issues in powder coating and abrasive blasting in workplaces has found a noticeable improvement in safety practices.
The program was conducted over the 2015/16 financial year in metropolitan and regional workplaces where powder coating and abrasive blasting activities were taking place, following on from an earlier inspection program looking at similar activities.
WorkSafe Director Joe Attard said today the inspection program had noted improvements in safety since the earlier program.
“An earlier program looking at powder coating found that many businesses were carrying out the activities with limited knowledge of the risks involved,” Mr Attard said.
“During this program, inspectors found that awareness of the risks had increased and that many companies had ceased using products containing the more hazardous substances once common in the industry.”
Powder coating is a process by which powder is applied electrostatically to an item before being heat-cured to form a skin-like casing.
The powder can contain a hazardous substance called Triglycidylisocyanurate (TGIC) that can increase skin and respiratory tract sensitivity, is toxic if inhaled or ingested, can cause serious eye damage and can cause reproductive effects in the offspring of males exposed to it.
Powders can also contain other hazardous substances such as hydrofluoric acid and Chromium 6, and there are also electrical hazards associated with electrostatic spray painting.
“As part of this inspection program, inspectors visited 58 workplaces in which powder coating and/or abrasive blasting activities were undertaken,” Mr Attard said. “They issued a total of 152 improvement notices and one prohibition notice.”
The main issues identified in workplaces were:
- Hazardous substance registers;
- Risk assessment for hazardous substances;
- Induction and training in the use of hazardous substances;
- General duty of care – provision of a working environment in which employees are not exposed to hazards; and
- Provision of appropriate first aid facilities specific to working environment, and training of personnel.
“Although there is obviously still work to be done in this area, the inspectors did note changes for the better over recent years,” Mr Attard said.
“Awareness of hazardous substances such as TGIC has increased noticeably, and many companies have ceased using them.
“This inspection program aimed to further raise awareness of the hazardous substances that may be used in the industry and provide employers with information on how to comply with workplace safety laws to make workplaces safer.
“We firmly believe that raising awareness with proactive inspection programs is the best way in which to lessen the risk of work-related injury and illness.”
Further information on safe systems of work and a Safety Alert on TGIC usage in powder coating can be obtained by telephoning WorkSafe on 1300 307877 or on the website at www.worksafe.wa.gov.au.
Media contact: Caroline De Vaney 6251 2363 or 0408 927563 (media enquiries only)
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