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021_Dust Exposure While Abrasive Blasting Interior Steam Vault Wall

Dust Exposure while Abrasive Blasting Interior Steam Vault Wall - Lessons Learned 021

Entrance to a steam vault which is also a confined space. The exterior of the space is protected by a portable guard rail, and the space is monitored with a 4-gas meter.

An employee was abrasive blasting a steam vault wall to remove old paint. While performing the work, the employee wore a supplied air hood that was provided with the abrasive blasting equipment. The employee was not familiar with the respiratory protection equipment included with the abrasive blasting equipment and may have been missing crucial components needed for the equipment to work properly. As a result, the employee did not attach the hood to the supplied air system which is designed to provide fresh air to the user and prevent inhalation of the abrasive blasting material.

Interior of a steam vault where work was being performed to remove paint using abrasive blasting.

After not being able to properly connect the hood to fresh air, the employee tried to wear a tight-fitting half face respirator under the supplied air hood, however, the respirator did not fit under the hood. After attempting to fit the respirator under the hood, the employee decided to perform the work with just the hood which did not provide the necessary respiratory protection for this irregular job task. Not wearing the proper respiratory protection resulted in unnecessary dust exposure.

To prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future:

  • NEVER put completing a project above your own health and safety.
  • STOP work immediately and contact your supervisor when you are unfamiliar with how to safely operate any equipment or missing critical equipment components.
  • Before performing irregular job tasks involving critical safety and health hazards such as environmental health hazards and working at heights where adequate fall protection does not exist, always engage your department’s safety professional to work through the task to ensure that the proper controls are in-place.
  • Perform a hazard assessment of the job task before commencing work. The hazard assessment should be used to identify all potential hazards associated with the job task and to determine the necessary controls needed to safely perform the work.
  • In addition to the hazard assessment, review the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for any material being used. The SDS will provide critical safety information regarding the material including controls such as personal protective equipment needed when working with the material.
  • Ensure employees are trained and qualified for the work being performed. Employees are not currently trained in abrasive blasting