Abrasive Blasting Safety

What is abrasive blasting?

Abrasive blasting is defined as the use of compressed air or water to direct a high velocity stream of an abrasive material to clean an object or surface, remove burrs, apply a texture, or prepare a surface for the application of paint or other type of coating.

What hazards are associated with abrasive blasting?

Abrasive blasting operations can create high levels of dust and noise. Abrasive material and the surface being blasted may contain toxic materials (e.g., lead paint, silica) that are hazardous to workers. 

1.    Flying debris which can fly into the eye of employees or cause abrasions, lacerations or cuts if correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is not utilized.

2.    Silica sand(crystalline) can cause silicosis, lung cancer, and breathing problems in exposed workers.

3.    Coal slag and garnet sand may cause lung damage like silica sand.

4.    Copper slag, nickel slag, and glass also have the potential to cause lung damage.

5.    Toxic metal exposure such as arsenic, beryllium, and cadmium which can be found in slag.

What controls may be used to protect yourself from abrasive blasting injuries and illnesses?

1.    Use a less toxic abrasive blasting material.

2.    Use abrasives that can be delivered with water (slurry) to reduce dust.

3.    Use barriers and curtain walls to isolate the blasting operation from other workers

4.    Use blast rooms or blast cabinets for smaller operations.

5.    Use restricted areas for non-enclosed blasting operations.

6.    Keep coworkers away from the blaster.

7.    Use exhaust ventilation systems in containment structures to capture dust.

8.    Do not use compressed air to clean as this will create dust in the air.

9.    Clean and decontaminate tarps and other equipment on the worksite.

10.  Schedule blasting when the least number of workers are at he site.

11.  Avoid blasting in windy conditions to prevent the spread of any hazardous materials.

12.  Prohibit eating, drinking, or using tobacco products in blasting areas.

13.  Provide wash stations so workers can wash their hands and face routinely and before eating, drinking, or smoking.

14.  Vacuum or remove contaminated work clothes before eating,drinking or smoking.

15.  Provide accommodations for end-of-shift showers and change areas with separate storage facilities for street clothes, protective clothing and equipment.

16.  Keep contaminated clothing and equipment out of the cleanchange area.

17.  Use PPE such as hearing protection, eye protection, respiratory protection, protective gloves, boots, etc.

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