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Spray Booth Safety

Spray booths aim to reduce atmospheric and fire hazards that are associated with painting and finishing operations. They are commonly found in manufacturing facilities and auto body shops. Properly designed and operated spray booths provide an efficient way to control ventilation, minimize exposure to hazardous materials and contain aerosolized flammables. To ensure worker safety, several steps should be taken when designing and using spray booths.

Spray Booth Construction 

Construct spray booths with fire-resistive materials, such as steel (#18 gauge or heavier), concrete, masonry or other substantial noncombustible material. 

Provide Enough Ventilation 

Adequate ventilation ensures the removal of harmful vapors and the control of combustible residues. Look for the following ventilation features in a spray booth: 

  • A mechanical ventilation capable of moving at least 100 linear feet of air per minute
  • Exhaust and ventilation systems that direct airflow toward an exhaust outlet that is vented to the outside (install the outlet within 18 inches of the floor)
  • Visual gauges, audible alarms and pressure-activated devices that help maintain the required air velocity in the booth
  • Spray guns that are interlocked with the ventilation system to prevent any spray operation while the system is inactive

Keep Fire Protection Top of Mind

Protect your spray booths with an automatic sprinkler system, with one sprinkler head for every 90 square feet of booth area. Sprinklers in spray areas should be guarded against overspray residue with cellophane or a thin paper bag. Replace covering often so overspray doesn't build up. Additionally, be sure to equip your spray booths with the appropriate fire extinguishers. Place the extinguishers in readily accessible areas, typically within 30 feet, and inspect them monthly. 

Combustible materials and other production operations must be kept at least a 3-feet away on all sides. And the safety protocols of spray finishes and cleaning chemicals should be followed to ensure the safe handling and storage of material in and around the booth area. All Safety Data Sheets (SDS) should be checked for reactivity and compatibility of substances. Flammable and combustible liquids should be properly stored in accordance with OSHA 1910.106

Electrical Precautions

Make sure all electrical wiring and equipment in and around the spray paint booth meet the requirements of the National Electric Code for Class 1 locations. Follow these best practices to stay safe: 

  • Place all flames and spark-producing devices at least 21 feet away from booths
  • Do not use portable lamps in any spraying area
  • Make sure any portable lamps used in a booth during cleaning or repair work is approved for Class I hazardous operations 
  • Ground all metal surfaces and ventilation ductwork of the spray booths

Maintenance and Housekeeping 

To make sure routine cleaning and regular filter changes are performed, develop a standard operating procedure and maintenance schedule. This should include monitoring the ventilation system to ensure proper airflow is maintained through the booth. 

Make sure all spray booth materials have proper labels and that they are stored correctly. If there's a spill, clean it up immediately and dispose of all hazardous waste properly and in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. 

Personal Protective Equipment 

Complete a hazard assessment of the materials used in the spray booth, including a review of the SDS, to identify needed personal protective equipment (PPE). Depending on the hazards related to the product being used, certain PPE may be necessary (i.e., gloves, aprons, face shield, work suits, etc.). If PPE is necessary, employees must be trained on the proper use, care and limitations of each item. 

Air monitoring during spray operations is necessary to establish employee exposure levels inside the spray booth. If exposure levels exceed the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for hazardous chemicals, employees will need to use respiratory protection. 

When respirators are required, employees must complete a respirator physical and respirator fit test before using the respirator. Airborne concentrations of chemicals at or above the PEL also require the employer to develop and implement a respiratory protection program (OSHA 1910.134 Respiratory Protection).

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