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28 JANUARY 2017 COATINGSPROMAG.COM Inspector's Corner F alls, explosions, chemical poisoning…it's the darker side of inspection you hope doesn't happen. But after spending years in the inspection field, things can get routine. It's easy to take jobsite and equipment hazards for granted, and that's when accidents happen. ere are hazards all around the jobsite, so knowing where to look and how to avoid potential problems can be the key to an all-around safe experience for the inspector. Overall Work Environment Hazards Sometimes the jobsite itself poses a hazard for the coatings inspector. Common safety issues to watch out for include cell phone usage, slip or trip hazards access/egress, and confined spaces. Cell phones pose a major distrac- tion on jobsites. Inspectors have walked off scaffolding and bridges and into hazardous situations while preoccupied w ith their phones. Cell phones are not intrinsically safe, and a batter y spark could ignite a solvent- or particulate-rich environment. It is important to be aware of your surroundings while using cell phones, and use them only when safe. e equipment placed by the contractor and previously installed by the owner can lead to slip and trip hazards. Hoses and power cords are frequent culprits of this type. If the work is performed at height, there could be fall hazards while conduct- ing the inspection. e necessary fall protection and work-positioning equip- ment should be used by the inspector. Access and egress concerns to and from the worksite for a confined space are site-specific. e confined space may be at height or underground, making it difficult for an inspector to access the work area. Common examples are water towers and manholes. Access systems, such as scaffolding, also pose a major threat. e scaffolding may be incom- plete or have changed since the last inspection. Familiarization with the access system and general plan of the structure may minimize these hazards. Confined spaces or enclosures require special attention and often site-specific training. Boilers, ballast tanks, storage tanks, process vessels, and weather controlling containment are a few examples of potential confined spaces and enclosures. Each site has its unique hazards, and a safety professional should be the one to advise the inspector on each site's risks. e facility owner or the owner's rep should help provide guidance on the training requirements needed for their facility as well. In addition to the confined space hazard itself, enclosures and confined spaces may have limited lighting, making it difficult for the inspector to safely navigate and inspect the work area. e common standard for the illumination of enclosures or confined spaces is Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) Guide 12, Guide for Illumination of Industrial Painting Projects. e structure of the confined space can itself be a hazard, too. Some sites have longitudinal and transverse beams to navigate, in addition to steps, uneven walkways, and tight corners, to name a few. Airborne dust and vapors in confined spaces are often the reason for flash explosions. Proper ventilation and energy/spark isolation are important elements while working or inspecting inside a confined space. Be sure to consult with the right people before entering any confined spaces, and wear proper safety gear that can help you detect and protect. Environmental Readings Once on the jobsite, an inspector usually starts each day by taking environmen- tal readings. e sling psychrometer is a hand-held tool commonly used to measure the relative humidity and dew point. e tool is simple to use, but the glass thermometers inside (typically filled with alcohol or mercury) can break and cause cuts, punctures, or toxicity issues. e mercury has been removed from all but the oldest models, so the inspector needs to check and replace any with the newer spirit thermometers. e operator can always wear gloves to avoid the other issues. Electronic hygrometers are also commonly used, but they are not always intrinsically safe (i.e., explo- sion proof ). A n electric spark from these tools can cause a fire or explo- sion in the solvent-rich environments often found during the preparation, application, and curing of coatings. T he use of older technolog y, such as a sling psychrometer, may be used w ithout the concern for explosion. By Gerard A. Marley, NACE Instructor, and Heramb Trifaley, Paint Application Technologist Worksite Safety for Inspectors