Hazards of Electrostatic Painting Operations

Written by andrew copley
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Hazards of Electrostatic Painting Operations
If painting is safe, why all the protection? (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Electrostatic painting is widely used for cars, bikes and almost anything metal. The basic concept is to create an electrical circuit. Power is supplied to the part being painted; then paint is forced out of the nozzle of the negatively charged gun. With the part positively charged, it is attracted to the metal. It's a simple, good working system as long as it's set up correctly. The trouble is that with anything electrical, there are some dangers.

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Explosion and Fire

An electrical charge or spark can easily ignite flammable liquids. Paint thinners and cleaners are highly flammable. All flammable substances must be kept out of the spray booth before the electric charge is applied and painting starts. Another risk is fumes from the drying ovens. If not properly vented, fumes can seep into the paint booth where the electrostatic charge can ignite them. Good air flow is recommended to reduce possible vapours.

Heat Stress

Heat can be a very serious problem for anyone spraying. Just like heat stroke, it hits hard and fast. Heat stress occurs when your body fails to lose excess heat fast enough. Breathing masks, hair caps and special anti-static clothing can keep you safe from most electrostatic spraying dangers. However, all this protective gear also means that with the drying ovens close by and nowhere for your body heat to escape, sooner or later heat stress will hit.

Electrostatic Charge

Great care must be taken with an electrostatic charge. An electrostatic field is created in the spraying area. If everything is not grounded properly, an electric shock can occur. If all equipment is not grounded, including floor mats, the chances for a shock increase. Electrical shocks can cause burns or even death. Before any painting starts, all equipment must be checked and properly grounded within 10 feet.

Pollution

Paint solvents are atomised once sprayed and become volatile organic compounds. The liquid coating materials can accidentally contaminate waterways during cleaning. Air filters, clothing and discarded equipment all contain paint and solvents that end up in landfills. The continual cleaning needed for electrostatic spray booths uses a lot of solvents and water that have to go somewhere. Electrostatic spraying creates a mist that falls on everything in and around the booth that needs to be cleaned as well.

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