Respirators for Car Paint Sprayers

28th Feb 2023

Respirators for car paint sprayers: a short guide on the importance of fit testing.

Respirators for car paint sprayers

Why is Spraying Paint harmful to health?

Many spray paints contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are harmful chemicals carbon-containing substances which enter your system through inhalation or skin absorption. Some short-term effects of exposure to VOCs include:

  • Eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

Some long-term effects include:

  • Cancer
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Central nervous system damage

Spray paints also contain highly reactive chemicals called isocyanates. Isocyanates are extremely irritant. Inhalation is the most common form of exposure for workers. Isocyanates can also enter through unprotected skin.

Some short-term effects include:

  • Irritation or burning in the eyes, nose, throat, and skin
  • Liquids can cause rashes, reddening or blistering

Some long-term effects include:

  • Isocyanates asthma
  • Strong sensitivity to isocyanates. (Could result in severe asthma attacks if exposed again).

It is a legal requirement to supply your workers with fit tested respiratory protective equipment if exposed to hazardous substances. This includes Face Fit Testing. This will ensure the respirator is offering adequate protection. It is a simple and quick procedure that can help prevent short-or long-term health issues.

What are the requirements?

Before your fit test, you must:

  • Not eat or drink within 30 minutes of the fit test (excluding unflavoured water)
  • Not chew gum, smoke, or vape within 30 minutes of the fit test
  • Bring some form of photographic ID with you
  • Be clean shaven within the last 8 hours within the area of the mask seal
  • Remove any makeup within the mask seal and have long hair tied back
  • Bring any head worn personal protective equipment that you wear with your mask
  • Bring glasses if you wear them with the mask.

You and your workers must be clean shaven 8 hours prior to your fit test. For a tight-fitting respirator to perform effectively and protect the wearer from breathing in hazardous substances, they rely on a tight seal to the wearers face. You should also be clean shaven each time you wear your respirator to ensure a tight-fitting seal. However, if you do not shave within the previous 8 hours period prior to your fit test, there will be increase in leakage.

If you or your workers wear more than one respirator, then each type of respirator should be fit tested.

A fit test certificate is valid for 2 years therefore you and your workers should get a fit test every 2 years to ensure the highest level of protection.

You should get a fit test if:

  • The wearer has any weight loss or gains weight
  • Substantial dental work
  • Any facial changes (e.g., scars, moles, effects of ageing etc) around the face seal area
  • Any new facial piercings,
  • Any change in head-worn personal protective equipment (PPE).


Fit Testing with Cavity

Within our team, we have several Fit2Fit accredited fit testers with experience in face fit testing. Our methods have been checked and confirmed with the best practice for face fit testing in line with BSIF and HSE. Good knowledge and technique are essential when conducting a fit test, poor execution could result in workers being exposed to those dangerous hazardous substances.

We provide Qualitative and Quantitative fit testing. Qualitative fit testing is a pass or fail test based on the wearer’s subjective assessment of any leakage through the face seal region by detecting the introduction of bitter- or sweet-tasting aerosol as a test agent.

Quantitative fit testing is the process of measuring the precise amount of leakage into nay tight-fitting facepieces. The test is performed by a machine.

Choosing the correct respirator for car paint sprayers

The two most common respirators used for spray painting are the half face and full face.

The full-face respirator conceals your entire face, preventing any exposure to your lungs, eyes and skin. These are a safe and reliable option.

A half face mask respirator is a popular choice for spray painters. The half face masks are also reusable.

The respirators will also need to be cleaned as often as necessary to maintain in a sanitary condition.

The most common way to clean your respirator is by using either a warm, mild soapy solution, or alcohol wipes. Clean the inside of the mask first and work your way to the outside of the mask in order to minimize contaminating the inside of your respirator.

We have the following masks for sale:

  • GVS
  • Stealth
  • 3M

It is your responsibility to ensure your workers are up-to-date with their fit testing. It is so important your workers have the highest level of protection when exposed to hazardous substances. Consequently, you could be faced with a fine.

"A car body retailer has been fined after a automotive bodywork sprayer developed occupational asthma. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7 (1) of The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and were fined £120,000 plus £2,657.55 in cost."

For more information on suppling properly fitted respirators for your car paint sprayers, email or phone 0118 214 6192.

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