In order for spraybooths to stay at optimum operational capability and remain legally safe to use, they must regularly be subject to highly specialised tests carried out by competent professionals such as our engineers here at Beta Group. Having recently covered some of these tests (Smoke Clearance and TExT) in a recent post, below we’ll be going into more detail about another vital test: Breathing Air Quality (BAQ) Testing in spraybooths.
All air-fed respiratory equipment must be tested to ensure the air is safe to breathe. Often, we find there is some confusion regarding the sampling frequency required and how the testing is undertaken. This must be undertaken by competent persons at least every three months. EN12021 requires that air is tested for the main contaminates of oil, water, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and odour.
In the UK national forward to EN12021, one important section relating to sampling clearly states:
“Samples should be taken from a pressure receptacle (cylinder), or from the point of supply (charging connection). Samples should be taken and analysed at least every three months or more frequently if there has been a change in, or concerns relating to, the production process.”
Beta operate throughout the UK with the latest Factair digital safe air test systems. These systems take a sample of air and determine the levels of contaminate present within it. We then ensure all results of this testing are securely recorded and stored, while also providing solutions to resolve failures and other issues.
It is important to appreciate that the testing should only form one part of a risk assessment for safe breathing air. The test is only a snapshot “moment-in-time” test and does not automatically and conclusively prove that the air is safe to breathe for 3 months. Changes in the environment, ventilation, compressors and vehicle movement are in almost constant flux, and can cause contaminates to vary from hour to hour.
Spraybooth operators’ air-fed points can and do fail due to excessive carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and often this is entirely preventable. At the crux of this issue are combustion gases, which are more likely to be present and at higher levels where there are vehicle movements, such as bodyshops. What’s more, a compressor mounted at high altitude inside a busy bodyshop can be prone to suffering from higher levels of combustion gas. This issue is often compounded in the colder months, as there is less ventilation in the bodyshop. The filters fitted to a regulator do not remove gases such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
If a compressor is drawing in contaminated air, this will likely to pass to the breathing air, which is the operator’s only supply when they are wearing air-fed Respiratory Protective Equipment. Venting a compressor to a clean air source will ensure that the breathing air is as clean as possible and safe to breathe, thereby protecting the health and safety of operators.
It is also vital to ensure that the RPE is well maintained and fit for purpose. Face-fit testing should be completed for every operator to ensure that the mask is fully capable of performing its function. Beta can assist with face-fit testing along with other occupation hygiene services.
The paint mixing room is an area that can often be overlooked. Whilst the spraybooth is naturally a primary concern, it is also important to ensure that the paint mixing room is fit for purpose and safe to use. Beta offer Thorough Examination and Testing on all types of paint mixing room to ensure compliance with the latest standards. Often, we see purpose built mixing rooms that have been extended or modified with no consideration to performance and airflow. For example, multiple mixing schemes are added along with gun wash machines etc. This can not only reduce operational effectiveness, but some of these modifications be incredibly unsafe for spraybooth operators and other staff.
The current HSE requirement for a paint mixing room is just 5 to 10 air changes per hour. However, this is very low and would likely result in significant build-up of odour and solvent fume. We would recommend around 40-60 air changes to achieve acceptable performance and minimise odour.
Another consideration is the fitment of gun wash machines. Often, these are simply ducted directly into the existing paint missing room extraction system using inadequate flexi-ducting. When in use, a gun wash machine can produce extracted contaminant in volumes that exceed the extraction capability of the mixing room. The result is an increased risk of isocyanate exposure and exposure to other contaminants from the gun cleaning process, which makes anyone exposed vulnerable to serious health risks.
To avoid this, we recommend that each gun wash machine is vented separately to atmosphere via a fixed duct. This ensures that the paint mixing room extraction is only used for its intended purpose.
A paint mixing room also must comply with DSEAR. Again, light fittings and electrical components must be suitable for the area. Mixing rooms are typically classified as zone 1 or 2 under ATEX. The mixing room cannot contain electrical sockets unless EX marked.
All services provided by Beta are undertaken by competent, qualified engineers, fully trained to the standards of the Gas Safe Register. In the course of our services to customers, we regularly encounter gas systems that have not been maintained by persons with the appropriate Gas Safe qualifications, or not tested as such. This is illegal, as no gas appliance can be serviced by any professional not trained to Gas Safe standards. Allowing procedures such as burner components or other parts to be swapped or adjusted by unqualified persons could result in void insurance at best, and criminal prosecution at worst, both for the person concerned and whoever has commissioned them to do the work.
We understand that legislation and guidance can be challenging to keep up with in the spraybooth industries, or our experts are on hand to offer expert advice and ensure that our customers are kept up to date with the changes and requirements of the current standards. Should you have any issues, please contact our team on 01706 878330 for more information.
We’re maintaining our focus on providing you with market-leading products and services around air filtration, spraybooths maintenance and building services. Feel free to give us a call on 01706 878330.