People often think that interior painting is one of the least dangerous jobs a person could have in the construction and remodeling industry. If your high school or college student is going to be doing interior painting to earn some money during spring break, you might not consider that an unsafe choice.
While interior painting generally doesn’t carry the risk of exterior painting, where painters can stand on ladders several stories high, it does come with some hazards that those who do it – and their employers – need to be aware of them. Let’s look at a few:
Muscle and ligament strains and tears
Interior painters often work with their arms reaching upward – even when they work with long-handled rollers. They’re also looking up. This can lead to muscle strain. Working at odd angles can also cause strains and muscle tears. Of course, so can carrying paint cans.
Exposure to fumes and toxic chemicals
Breathing in not just paint fumes but paint thinner, lacquer and other toxic substances used to prepare areas for painting can cause respiratory damage. That’s more dangerous when working in small, poorly ventilated areas. Painters working in new construction may have no air conditioning. It’s always wise to wear a well-made, close-fitting mask.
These fumes and substances are also dangerous to the eyes – even if they don’t splatter directly in the eye. Eye protection like goggles can prevent serious injuries.
Slips, trips and falls
When you’re painting in areas like stairways, bathrooms and lofts, painters often have to place their ladders on uneven or less-than-stable surfaces. Spills on the floor can also cause ladders to slide. It’s always smart to be sure that your ladder can’t move and have someone spotting you to help ensure your safety.
Whether you’re a full-time or part-time painter, it’s important to know your right to seek workers’ compensation benefits if you suffer a work-related injury or illness. These benefits can cover medical costs and help make up some of the wages you lose if you have to take time off work. If you’re having trouble applying or getting your application approved, it can help to have legal guidance to protect your rights.