Procedure: Abrasive blasting
- This procedure details the processes to be followed when undertaking all abrasive blasting activities at the University. Abrasive blasting is generally performed in enclosed environments like blasting chambers or cabinets, or on open sites, for example on buildings, bridges, tanks, boats or mobile plant.
- Abrasive blasting uses 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. Employers must protect workers from hazardous dust levels and toxic metals that may be generated from both the blasting material and the underlying substrate and coatings being blasted.
- Abrasive blasting processes involve hazardous substances, dust, noise, particulate matter, abrasive blasting equipment and plant. General hazards associated with abrasive blasting processes include manual tasks, working in confined spaces, working at heights, slips, trips and falls, vibration and heat.
- College Deans, Research School and Service Division Directors, or their nominees, responsible for engaging staff or contractors to undertake abrasive blasting are responsible for ensuring:
- The provision of induction training to abrasive blasters and support staff on blasting health and safety hazards, how to use controls, personal hygiene practices, safe work practices and the use of PPE and respirators.
- Manufacturers provide appropriate health hazard information on the blasting materials on safety data sheets (SDS) as required under the WHS Hazard management procedure.
- A health surveillance program is implemented for staff where respirators are used in abrasive blasting activities.
- Workers undertaking abrasive blasting activities are responsible for:
- ensuring that they obtain and read the manufacturer’s SDS for health hazard information on the abrasive blasting material being used; and
- completing, reading and acknowledging the hazard assessments, applicable risk controls and any safe work method statements (SWMS) developed, before commencing abrasive blasting activities.
- The hazards associated with abrasive blasting involve the nature of the cleaning substance, the nature of the substances being removed and the circumstances in which cleaning takes place.
- Hazards involving abrasive blasting are the similar to those presented with the use of plant in addition to those related to the high speed propelled abrasive stream used with abrasive blasting. Potential health risks associated with abrasive blasting include, but are not limited to the following:
- Inhalation: Breathing in small particles of dust can scar lung tissue. Silica dust can cause silicosis (stiffening and scarring of lungs). This creates shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain. Lead dust can result in lead poisoning.
- Noise and vibration: Noise exposure can result in permanent hearing damage. With prolonged use of abrasive blasting equipment, vibration can cause persistent microscopic damage to nerves and blood capillaries. Refer to the Noise management procedure.
- Manual handling: Manual handling tasks can result in strains, sprains, fractures, dislocations, bruises and overuse injuries.
- Slips, trips and falls: Slips, trips and falls can cause injuries to arms, legs and the head.
- Confined spaces: Working in confined spaces can result in burns, crush injuries, electrocution, suffocation, poisoning, brain damage and death. Refer to the Confined space safety procedure.
- Heat stress: When a person is subjected to heat, it can result in heat stress, discomfort, irritability, dehydration, reduced concentration, heat-rash, reduced tolerance to chemicals and noise, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
- Abrasion: Abrasion of body parts and/or eye damage.
- Each abrasive blasting operation is unique, involving different surfaces, coatings, blast material, and working conditions. The person responsible for the workplace is required to undertake a hazard identification and assessment using a targeted process. This process needs to be considered from the moment of purchase through to disposal considering factors such as the hiring of abrasive blasting devices; installation and commissioning of abrasive blasting devices; instruction, training and supervision of workers; usage of abrasive blasting devices in the workplace; inspection and storage of abrasive blasting devices; and the decommissioning and dismantling of abrasive blasting devices.
- The use of engineering and administrative controls, PPE, including respiratory protection, and training to protect workers involved in abrasive blasting activities is to be considered in mitigating identified risks.
- Engineering controls, such as substitution, isolation, containment, and ventilation are the primary means of preventing or reducing exposures to hazards during abrasive blasting operations. Administrative controls, including the use of good work and personal hygiene practices, can also reduce exposure.
- Substitution controls includes:
- using a less toxic abrasive blasting material; and/or
- using abrasives that can be delivered with water (slurry) to reduce dust.
- Isolation and containment controls includes:
- using barriers and curtain walls to isolate the blasting operation from other workers;
- using blast rooms or blast cabinets for smaller operations;
- using restricted areas for non-enclosed blasting operations; and
- keeping workers away from the blaster.
- Ventilation controls includes:
- using exhaust ventilation systems in containment structures to capture dust.
- Performing routine clean up using wet methods or high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA), filtered vacuuming to minimize the accumulation of toxic dusts. Additional clean up considerations include:
- do not use compressed air to clean as this will create dust in the air;
- clean and decontaminate tarps and other equipment on the worksite;
- schedule blasting when the least number of workers are at the site; and
- avoid blasting in windy conditions to prevent the spread of any hazardous materials.
Personal hygiene practices
- The following personal hygiene controls should be implemented by workers:
- prohibit eating or drinking in blasting areas;
- provide wash stations so workers can wash their hands and face routinely and before eating or drinking;
- vacuum or remove contaminated work clothes before eating or drinking;
- provide accommodations for end-of-shift showers and change areas with separate storage facilities for street clothes, protective clothing and equipment; and
- keep contaminated clothing and equipment out of the clean change area.
- When engineering and administrative controls cannot maintain exposure to hazardous materials below permissible exposure limits, respiratory protection is required.
- An abrasive-blasting respirator must cover the wearer’s head, neck, and shoulders to protect the wearer from rebounding abrasive. Workers must use only respirators that have been designed to meet the requirements of respiratory protection in abrasive blasting operations.
- Staff, including contractors, involved in clean-up and other related activities may also need respiratory protection.
Personal Protective Equipment
- Providing PPE for workers undertaking abrasive blasting activities is the responsibility of the College Dean, Research School or Service Division Director engaging the workers. PPE for abrasive blasting activities may include:
- hearing protection;
- eye and face protection;
- leather gloves that protect to full forearm and aprons (or coveralls); and
- safety shoes or boots.
- Certain kinds of abrasive blasting devices may require a licence from Comcare to operate. Some high-risk devices must also be registered with Comcare and may require a separate high-risk work licence. Refer to the high risk work procedure for further information. Further information is also accessible on the Comcare web page.
- There are no training requirements for this procedure.
Legal and other requirements
Work Health and Safety Act, 2011 (Cth)
Work Health and Safety Regulations, 2011 (Cth)
Work Health and Safety (Abrasive Blasting) Code of Practice 2015
|Printable version (PDF)|
|Purpose||To describe how abrasive blasting activities at the University are to be managed.|
|Topic/ SubTopic||Health, Safety & Environment - Occupational Health & Safety|
|Effective Date||15 May 2018|
|Review Date||31 Dec 2023|
|Responsible Officer:||Director, Human Resources|
|Approved By:||Chief Operating Officer|
|Contact Area||Human Resources Division|
National Self-Insurer WHS Audit Tool
Work Health & Safety Act 2011
Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011