Work Hazards Facing NYC Construction Site Painters
While a painter’s work may not sound very dangerous, major safety risks exist since these workers are often climbing up ladders and standing on scaffolding each day. They must also regularly work with toxic substances and lift heavy tools and equipment. Great stamina, strength and dexterity are required for this work.
On an average day, most painters are reaching up, bending down or kneeling while applying coats of paint to various surfaces. They must also carry heavy cans of paint to work sites and wear respirators to make sure they can breathe properly near dangerous fumes. Although many tasks are completed indoors, painters must often work outdoors during extremely poor weather conditions.
Here’s a closer look at common tasks painters perform and the types of serious accidents they often incur. This information is followed by a list of physical injuries some painters suffer while handling their duties. The article concludes with a look at specific safety guidelines that can help lower the injury risks for painters employed on construction sites.
General tasks that painters must often perform
- Determine the proper paint and other materials required for each job. Different surfaces can require special paint mixtures;
- Prepare surfaces for paint. When buildings are being remodeled or renovated, painters must often spend significant time removing old wallpaper and scraping off older coats of paint before applying new ones;
- Select different tools for use – and clean them up at the end of each workday. Brushes must be carefully cleaned, and ladders must be examined each day to be sure they can be safely used. Facial masks or respirators may be required while different paints are being mixed together since toxic fumes are often present;
- Carry cans of paint, solvents and other work tools to project sites;
- Supervise the work of apprentices, making sure all tasks are performed in a professional manner.
Types of accidents that can cause major injuries – or even death
- While painters often handle many tasks while standing on firm ground, others must regularly climb onto different work platforms and scaffolding to ply their trade. Ladders of different sizes are also often required to handle different tasks. Slipping in paint spills and other wet substances can create major hazards;
- Serious eye injuries. Even if they use proper protective eyewear, painters’ eyes are often exposed to highly toxic fumes. It only takes a small amount of some paints, thinners and brush cleaners to land in the eyes and cause long-term or even permanent eye damage;
- Exposure to toxic substances. Besides being at risk for suffering serious eye injuries (proper eye gear is crucial), painters must wear appropriate clothes, gloves, hats, airline respirators and boots. They must also wear clothing that will help protect them from paint and other spills. Exposure problems are heightened whenever painters are forced to work in confined spaces;
- Injuries caused by falling objects. Painters are just as likely as other construction site workers to suffer serious head or other bodily injuries when large tools and building materials fall from cranes and hit them;
- Illnesses and diseases caused by exposure to bacteria, mold and fungi. While this danger may exist at many work sites, it’s often most prevalent when painters are helping to renovate buildings. These workers are also likely to be exposed to rodent and bird droppings when working in many closed-in spaces – especially those present in older buildings requiring new paint jobs. Painters can also suffer if exposed to asbestos or lead in some older buildings being remodeled and painted;
- Damage to shoulders, necks and bones. Painters are often expected to do a moderate amount of heavy lifting while working on some projects;
- Hearing losses. Painters should seriously consider wearing ear plugs when forced to handle assigned tasks near loud machinery, people using hammers — or when exposed to other forms of noise pollution;
- Electrical hazards. Painters must always check to be sure that they won’t be having to paint in areas where live electricity could injure them;
- Exposure to extreme weather temperatures. All workers on construction sites must dress properly every day and keep themselves fully hydrated – outdoor winter conditions always require multiple clothing layers;
- Dangers posed by nearby combustible or flammable materials. Painters need to ask their supervisors to be sure all areas that must be painted won’t subject them to any sudden explosions or other deadly risks.
Bodily injuries most often suffered by painters
- Traumatic brain injuries. Falling objects can cause these – as well as slipping and falling from great heights to the ground;
- Spinal cord injuries. These are also likely to occur when workers fall from scaffolds, platforms or ladders while they’re busy painting;
- Serious respiratory problems. These can easily develop due to all the toxic paint fumes and other materials regularly used by painters. Breathing problems can also be triggered when painters must work near mold, asbestos and other similar substances;
- Burns. Although this type of injury rarely occurs, burns can happen when paint or other flammable substances catch on fire – potentially burning nearby workers;
- Infectious disease These can be caused by exposure to molds, bacteria and fungi;
- Fractured or broken bones. These are most likely to happen when a painter falls off a ladder or scaffolding;
- Cuts, bruises or lacerations. Painters must sometimes work with sharp tools that can cause these injuries. They can also occur when they’re working near glass windows.
Safety guidelines that can help better protect all painters
- Those who will be working at great heights must wear personal protective equipment. It’s also wise to provide netting to help limit the distance of all falls;
- Provide proper training to all workers. They must be taught how to maintain adequate safety while painting in confined spaces — and to properly maintain and store all their tools. Healthy lifting techniques must be taught – and ladder safety practices must also be demonstrated. If any workers will be painting near asbestos, specialized safety training must be provided for that purpose;
- Proper ventilation of all work areas is crucial. Respirators should be required in many locations;
- All painters must take periodic work breaks. Repetitive hand movements can prove very damaging for these workers over time;
- Painters and others must be required to immediately report all known workplace safety hazards. They should be told that they will not be fired for reporting such problems.
I’ve you’ve been seriously hurt while working on a New York City construction site, you need to immediately contact our New York City construction accident law firm. One of our experienced attorneys will fully investigate the facts of your case and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to cover all your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses and other accident-related losses.