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Safe Work Method Statement for Painting: Essential for Construction

Safe Work Method Statement for Painting: Essential for Construction

Sep 12th 2022

Safe Work Method Statement for Painting: Essential for Construction

Potential hazards while painting includes everything from tall ladders to slippery floors. Most painting accidents occur when these hazards are not considered or managed correctly. Using an SWMS for painting safety can help ensure that all potential hazards are controlled so workers can complete their tasks safely.

Is Painting Work a High-Risk Construction Work?

Work Health and Safety Regulations sets out what is considered high-risk construction work. A safe work method statement (SWMS) is required for this type of work. The regulation lists several high-risk activities, such as working at heights, operating machinery, and handling hazardous chemicals. Though painting work is not directly specified in the high-risk construction work lists of Safe Work Australia, many activities that involve painting are. Paintworks conducted at heights, in hot weather conditions, in confined spaces, or with potentially harmful chemicals or lead-based paint are considered high-risk.

Painting Hazards

Health and safety risks are associated with every painting process, from choosing the right paint to cleanup and disposal. Some of the painting works that pose risks include:

#1 Working in confined spaces

Painters will be exposed to several hazards when working in confined spaces.

  • Lack of oxygen - The painter may experience dizziness, fatigue, and headaches when oxygen levels drop. Lack of oxygen can lead to unconsciousness or even death.
  • Exposure to heat - High temperatures can cause dehydration and heat exhaustion. In extreme cases, heat stroke can occur.
  • Exposure to hazardous fumes - If these fumes are inhaled, they can cause respiratory and other health issues.

#2 Working at heights

These activities come with a fall hazard and the risks associated with working at heights. Painting done at heights may include:

  • Painting roofs
  • Working on scaffolding
  • Painting the exterior of a building
  • Climbing a ladder to reach high areas
  • Bucket painting
  • Abseiling painting

These hazards may result in injuries, such as bruises, cuts, broken bones, and even fatalities.

Painter painting roof while standing on a scaffold

#3 Slips, trips, and falls

Slippery surfaces are a common hazard in painting work, as paint and other liquids are often used. These slippery surfaces can cause slips, trips, and falls, which may result in serious injuries. Some instances wherein a worker encounters slippery surfaces are:

  • Spilling paint
  • Walking through wet paint
  • Dropping a paintbrush or roller in wet paint
  • Using a ladder that has been coated

Manual lifting

Manual lifting is a hazardous activity that can often result in musculoskeletal injuries. Poor manual lifting techniques, such as awkward body positions or lifting with excessive force, can strain the muscles and joints, leading to pain and inflammation. These injuries can sometimes lead to lasting damage, such as herniated discs or nerve damage.

Electrical hazards

These hazards can occur when:

  • Working near electrical outlets
  • Using power tools that are not properly grounded
  • Improperly using extension cords
  • Wet conditions increase the risk of electrocution, as water can conduct electricity
  • Working close to live electrical power lines

Handling hazardous chemicals and lead-based paints

Some paints contain hazardous chemicals that can be harmful if inhaled or ingested. Here is more information about chemical hazards:

  • Exposure to paint products and solvents - Chemicals such as solvents, thinners, and pigments can be toxic if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
  • Lead poisoning - Lead-based paint is a health hazard, as it can lead to lead poisoning. Lead poisoning can cause brain damage, learning disabilities, and other health problems.
  • Working close to flammable materials - Flammable materials, such as paint thinners and solvents, can cause fires or explosions if they are not used properly.

Operating machinery

Some painting jobs require machinery, such as pressure washers and spray painting. These machines can be dangerous if not used properly.

Exposure to toxic fumes

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals released into the air as gases from certain liquids or solids. A common source of VOCs is paint. When you open a can of paint, many VOCs escape into the air, and you can smell them. VOCs can cause short-term and long-term health effects. Short-term effects may include headaches, eye irritation, dizziness, and fatigue. Long-term effects may include cancer, liver damage, and kidney damage.

Specific Spray Painting Hazards

The main hazards of spray painting are paint removers, resins, and coating materials. Workers can be exposed to these harmful substances when they inhale, swallow, or absorb them through the skin or eyes.

Paint removers can contain highly toxic substances that can cause serious health problems if inhaled or ingested. Resins are also dangerous if inhaled, as they can cause respiratory problems. Coatings of paint and coating materials can also be harmful if swallowed, as they can contain lead and other toxins that can cause serious health problems.

Managing Painting Risks

Safe Work Australia always recommends the four steps of the risk management process: identifying risks, assessing risks, controlling risks, and monitoring risks. When working with or around paint, it is essential to follow these steps to ensure the safety of all workers.

Safe Work Procedures for Painting

Additionally, here are preventive or safety control measures that can be adopted when doing painting work:

  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment: wear the appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves, a respirator, and protective eyewear, when working with or around paint.
  • Maintain good ventilation: ensure adequate ventilation when using paint, as this will help remove any harmful fumes from the air.
  • Learn safety procedures for working at heights: if you are working at heights, learn the safety procedures for using ladders, scaffolding, and other equipment.
  • Avoid awkward body positions: when painting, avoid awkward body positions or take breaks when you need to work in prolonged standing.
  • Learn safe lifting techniques: when lifting paint cans or other heavy objects, use proper lifting techniques to avoid injuries.
  • Maintain safe distances to energised electrical equipment and electrical power lines: this will prevent you from getting electrocuted.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety data sheet: when using paint or other chemicals, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid accidents or injuries.

Worker wearing mask and googles while spray painting vehicle

Painting SWMS

The person conducting business undertaking (PCBU) has the primary duty of care to ensure the health and safety of all workers. This includes following the risk management process steps and providing the necessary documentation to workers, such as safety data sheets (SDS) and work method statements for painting (SWMS).

Any time high-risk work conditions are present, an SWMS must be written out and followed to ensure the safety of all workers on site. A safe work method statement (SWMS) is a critical safety document used by painters and other workers to ensure that they adhere to best practices when performing their work. By documenting these elements, companies can standardise their approach to safety, ensuring that all workers are aware of the risks involved and are adequately equipped to handle them.

Who Prepares a Safe Work Method Statement for Painting?

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must prepare a safe work method statement (SWMS) before high-risk construction work starts. An SWMS is a document that sets out the high-risk construction work to be carried out, the risks associated with that work, and the control measures put in place to control those risks. Preparing an SWMS is an essential step in ensuring the safety of workers and other people at the construction site.

Painting SWMS Content

An effective safe work method statement for painting must be clear and concise, providing workers with a step-by-step guide in carrying out their work safely. The content of the SWMS should be carefully considered, and all unnecessary information should be removed. This includes any statements that could potentially lead to confusion or misunderstanding.

For example, the phrase ‘use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)’ does not detail the specific control measures that must be implemented. A more effective statement would be ‘all workers must wear gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask when working with this material’. By specifying the exact control measures that need to be implemented during painting work, there is less room for error and workers are more likely to stay safe.

Safe Work Method Statement for Painting Templates

Following an SWMS should be a top priority for any workplace with painting. A template is a starting point for implementing an SWMS, but it’s essential to tailor the document to the specific work being undertaken.

When updating an SWMS for painting work, make sure to include:

  • A description of the work to be carried out: includes all relevant details such as the location, type of work, dates, and duration.
  • A list of all potential hazards: includes all the risks associated with the work being carried out, such as slips, trips, and falls.
  • The control measures that will be put in place: include all the safety procedures that will be taken to control the risks, such as using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and traffic management plans.
  • The roles and responsibilities of all workers: include a clear description of the tasks that each worker will be responsible for.
  • The Emergency Procedures: include a step-by-step guide on what to do in case of an accident or injury.

By having a comprehensive and well-written SWMS in place, you can be confident that your workers are aware of the risks involved in their work and are taking the necessary steps to stay safe. SafetyDocs by SafetyCulture offers a range of SWMS templates that can be customised to suit your specific needs. Check out these SWMS templates and use them for your painting work today:

Get Safe Work Method Statement for Painting Bundle Packs from SafetyDocs!

We also offer Safe Work Method Statement for painting in bundle packs here at SafetyDocs. This way, you can get all the SWMS you need for your trade in one go, and at a discounted rate. Purchasing each document individually can quickly add up, but with our bundle packs, you can save significantly. So why not look at our range of SWMS bundle packs today and see how much you could save? Contact us today to learn more about our SWMS templates and how they can benefit your business.


Available for instant download and supplied in fully editable MS Word format for use in your business.

Please note that the above information is provided as a comment only and should not be relied on as professional, legal or financial advice.

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