Top Protective Equipment Every Painter Needs on the Job

Top Protective Equipment Every Painter Needs on the JobResidential and commercial painters in Danville, CA, are always in demand by their clients. Painters are trained to work in different environments and with various paints and equipment on a wide range of surfaces. Considering their working conditions, painters are often exposed to different occupational and environmental hazards. Thus, painters need to protect themselves and maintain their own safety, in addition to safeguarding and maintaining the area and the people around them. 

As a painting contractor, you and your crew should be aware of what safety issues to be aware of, how to observe safety at work, and what forms of personal protection equipment (PPE) they should use. Workplace safety is your duty and moral responsibility as a painting contractor. Any responsible and conscientious painter doesn’t wish harm to anyone or cause damage to one’s assets or property. Thus, wearing essential protective gear is a requirement, especially if painters work in hazardous environments.

The Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act in 1970 establishes and enforces safe workplace conditions and standards to ensure that workers, including residential and commercial painters, are protected from the hazards that threaten their health and safety.

With only a few exceptions, OSHA requires each employer to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees free of charge. These PPE typically include face masks, respirators, hard hats, safety glasses, gloves, goggles, safety shoes, welding helmets and goggles, face shields, chemical protective equipment, and fall protection equipment.

What are the risks that painters usually encounter?

painting wall with spray gun

Painters usually encounter various hazards at work. Therefore, it is important that the paint crew follow safety procedures on the site and use the proper protective equipment for their own health and safety and to protect your home or business from damage or liability (financial, legal, etc.)

The list below enumerates the common hazards that professional painting contractors are usually exposed to at work:

  • Prolonged standing
  • Working at heights
  • Slips and falls
  • Exposure to chemicals and sanding dust
  • Exposure to sanding dust
  • Exposure to mold and mildew spores
  • Lifting heavy or awkward objects
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Electrical hazards
  • Working in confined spaces
  • Improper ventilation
  • Exposure to heat and cold
  • Working in confined spaces
  • Injury from using sharp tools or contact with rough surfaces, etc.
  • High-frequency noise (more common in commercial and industrial paint projects)
  • Falling objects
  • Lack of proper ventilation

The employers are responsible for providing protective equipment for their employees

Whether the job is professional residential painting, commercial painting, or any other job and the activity of the professional, painters must be protected from existing and potential hazards at work. Their PPE should be their employer’s responsibility. This is mentioned in article R. 4321-4 of the Labor Code, which requires the employer to provide their crew with free PPE and ensure that they function and are maintained properly.

Essential protective gear for residential and commercial painters

Personal protective equipment PPE

Respiratory protection

  • Respirator – A painting respirator is usually worn over the mouth and nose to prevent inhaling paint fumes, paint mist, sanding dust, and other contaminants. It should fit snugly around the wearer’s face so that the paint fumes, dust, etc., shall have no chance to get through the gaps in the mask. The N95 respirator is commonly used among professional painters. It is the best respirator option, especially when spraying paint.
  • 3M face mask – Most ideal for DIY home painters, this inexpensive and disposable half-mask will protect the wearer from VOC fumes.
  • Powered respirator – This purifies the air in addition to filtering it. It uses a pump to push the air into the hood the user wears. 

Eye, face, and head protection

  • Safety glasses – The distinguishable feature of safety glasses is the side shields. Safety glasses protect the eye area from dust, fumes, and flying-object hazards like floating sawdust. There are tinted options that serve as protection for the eye against glare and the sun’s UV rays. Employees can also wear them over prescription glasses.
  • Goggles – A good-quality pair of goggles is a good option where there is a risk of paint, other chemicals, and sanding dust getting into the painter’s eye area, especially while spraying paint or painting in a windy or dusty environment. Goggles are also available in tinted options to protect the eyes from glare and the sun’s UV rays.
  • Face shield – A face shield is worn for painting jobs where there is a risk of paint, sanding dust, and other chemicals getting into the painter’s eyes, especially while spraying paint or painting in a windy or dusty environment. But wearing a face shield alone doesn’t provide complete protection for the face, so it’s better to wear it over any type of safety eyewear and/or face mask.
  • Hard hat – A hard hat protects the wearer’s head in case of a collision during a fall or an impact caused by a falling object.

Protective clothing

  • Coveralls – Overalls consist of 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 have a pair of trousers with a bib, holder, and loose straps to wear over the painter’s normal clothes. Unlike coveralls, overalls do not usually cover the arms and the head. 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. 
  • High-visibility safety vest or jacket – High-visibility vests and jackets allow the worker to be seen and alert that someone is present, especially in low-visibility situations. Painters working at heights should wear a reflective safety vest or jacket for visibility and protection from potential hazards.

Hand and foot protection

  • Gloves – A good pair of gloves will adequately protect both hands from skin injury caused by chemicals from paint and similar products, as well as abrasions and cuts from sharp tools and rough surfaces. A good pair of gloves should snugly fit your hands so that there is no chance of paint, sanding dust, sharp objects, etc., anything getting into them. Some gloves are disposable, while others are reusable and can be washed properly after use.
  • Shoe covers – Disposable shoe covers protect the wearer’s footwear and any exposed skin that could become irritated by contact with paint, sanding dust, cleaning chemicals, thinners, etc. They also keep dirt and grime from entering the worksite
  • Safety footwear – The choice of footwear depends on the present or potential workplace hazards. 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 arrest equipment

  • Full-body harness or safety harness – It is a wearable fall arrest component that 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.
  • Connectors – Connectors or connecting means serve as a bridge between the full-body harness and the anchorage connector. They usually consist of energy-absorbing components to prevent injury during a fall. 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 – It connects the full-body harness to the anchor or lifeline with a line of energy-absorbing webbing.
  • 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 – The 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 

  • Safety earplugs – Earplugs are inserted into the ear to prevent loud or high-frequency noise from entering the ear. They also protect the ear from the intrusion of water, dust, insects, cold, and strong winds.
  • Earmuffs – Earmuffs are used to protect the worker’s ears from high-frequency noise, as well as dust, extreme weather, or temperature changes. Earplugs and earmuffs can be worn together in environments with high noise levels or if the wearer has sensitive ears.

car paint service worker

Safety Gear Maintenance and Care

To maintain its effectiveness and long useful life, the user of PPE must properly take care of it and store it when not in use. If the PPE is reusable, the user must clean it and keep it in good condition. This is very important because the effectiveness of PPE can be significantly reduced if it is not properly cleaned, maintained, and stored. Care and maintenance of PPE can be easily done by the workers themselves.

Keeping a supply of disposable PPE, such as suits, gloves, and shoe covers, is good. They are useful, especially for dirty jobs where laundry costs are high.

  • Always take good 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 that is free from sunlight, moisture, and contaminants.
  • If the PPE is disposable (such as gloves and shoe covers), discard them once used. Do not reuse disposable PPEs, as this can also pose high levels of risk for accidental contamination.
  • Repair or replace damaged PPE.
  • Do not share used PPE, as this practice can put you at risk for accidental contamination.
  • Report any loss, damage, or obvious defect on the PPE you are provided.

Training and Awareness

The employer should implement a solid PPE training program if PPE is to be used at work. This program usually addresses the following:

  • The present and potential hazards of a workplace
  • The selection, maintenance, and use of PPE
  • Training of employees in proper use
  • Monitoring the program to ensure its ongoing effectiveness

Employees who currently use or will use PPE must be subject to undergo training so that they will be aware of the following:

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

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that each employee completely understands the PPE training (e.g., the training is taught in the language and terminology they understand) and the ability to properly use PPE before they can be permitted to work in environments that require PPE.

However, if the employee does not seem to demonstrate an understanding of the PPE training, the employer should retrain the employee. Other conditions that require retraining or additional training of employees include changes in the work environment or in the type of required PPE that renders the prior training obsolete.


Painting a home or commercial building can be a risky business. Painting contractors and their crews are prone to various hazards, including exposure to chemicals and potential falls. Therefore, the use of PPE can help reduce the painter’s exposure to such hazards that can otherwise cause illnesses, injuries, and even death caused by exposure to chemicals, dust, mold, extreme weather changes, and electrical hazards.

Employers are required to provide solid safety training to their employees regarding the proper wearing and general use of PPE, in addition to the responsibility of providing them with PPE. By educating the paint crew, they will demonstrate an understanding of the proper use of PPE before they are allowed to work in areas that require such PPE. 

The best commercial painters in Danville, CA, always put safety first in their jobs. As safety is in place, painters will be able to focus on their jobs and deliver the best results.

Contact Custom Painting, Inc. if you plan to have commercial painting done anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area. Call us at 925-866-9610 to discuss your needs. You can also fill out the contact form to have someone from our office contact you to schedule an appointment for a free estimate.