Should Paint Technicians Lift Their Visor?

We have employed a new Paint Technician who has years of experience and is really good at his job but I regularly see him lifting his visor to ‘check’ the finish. I have asked him not to do this but he has said that momentarily lifting the visor does not affect health.

Is he correct or should I ensure he keeps his visor down whilst spraying. The other painters keep their visors down but I am concerned that they may follow the example of this older more experienced new employee.

Should I give the painter a specific instruction to keep his visor down whilst spraying and notify him that if I see him raise his visor again I will be required to take disciplinary action?
The Health and Safety Executive ‘HSE’ has recently investigated the potential risk to Paint Technicians when they momentarily lift their air fed visor whilst spraying.

Air-fed visors (AFV) are commonly used within the Vehicle Repair Industry for protection against exposure to isocyanate paints. However, it is a common practice amongst paint sprayers is to flip up the visor of their AFV, usually immediately after spraying to check the quality of the paint finish.

The AFV may only be flipped up for a few seconds but flipping the AFV can become habitual and as a result repeated numerous times during a work shift. The few seconds exposure on numerous occasions could potentially result in a significant increase in exposure.

The HSE has investigated this situation in their Research Report 1064 which can be viewed ‘here’.

The aim of their Research was to determine the reduction in protection and the potential increase in exposure when the visor is lifted and to explore potential engineering solutions (by modifying the AFV design) to prevent exposure during any visor lift.

The Research clearly demonstrated that lifting the visor whilst still within a contaminated atmosphere had a significant detrimental effect on the protection afforded by the AFV. Mean protection factors were measured at 1.7 in the lifted position and at 2.7 over the whole of the exposure period (from start of the lift to recovery of protection after refitting). This latter figure equates to a 15 fold increase in exposure when related to the assigned protection factor of 40 for AFV when used correctly.

The Research undertaken by HSE clearly demonstrates that the comment, made by your paint Technician, ‘that momentarily lifting the visor does not affect health is inaccurate. By lifting the AFV he is increasing his exposure by the length of time the visor is open and by an additional 15 seconds when the AFV is closed. The HSE have established that on average it will take an AFV 15 seconds to recover from being opened and provide a similar level of protection it provided prior to the lift.

In answer to your question, whether you should ask your painter to keep his visor down the answer from the HSE appears to be ‘yes’.

It is recommended that you provide your painters with a copy of the HSE report and instruct them all to keep his visor down. It would also be appropriate to provide your Painters with a copy of the HSE Report on the lifting of visors.

Perhaps you should issue a memo relating to PPE to evidence that you have acted upon concerns about health and safety.  A suggested memo can be downloaded here.