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A Complete Guide to Airless Paint Sprayer Safety (Includes Video)

Airless paint sprayers provide so many benefits like faster production and the ability to spray heavy bodied coatings.  Depending on your spray application you may have to use them in order to be able to properly apply your coating.  If you will be using an airless paint sprayer you want to ensure you remain safe.  Improper use of an airless paint sprayer can result in a lot of problems including fluid injection, respiratory risks, or explosion risk.  By following proper safety concepts you can reduce the potential risk when using airless paint sprayers.

Preventing fluid injection

Fluid injection is caused by the high pressure  fluid piercing your skin.  Fluid injection can be extremely dangerous and requires immediate medical treatment.

  • Airless paint sprayers by Graco or Titan come with a tip guard. The tip guard helps to reduce the chance that you get your hand to close to the fluid stream and get an injection injury.
  • In addition to a tip guard airless sprayers also have a trigger safety. You should always ensure your airless sprayer trigger is properly working and you use it appropriately.
  • You should treat the airless spray gun like a dangerous tool and not point it toward anyone at any time.
  • Whenever you are done spraying, need to change a tip, clean, or perform maintenance on the machine you should relieve pressure from the airless paint sprayer. To relieve pressure you turn the sprayer off or turn off air being supplied to the airless sprayer, you then open the dump valve, and trigger the gun while pointing away from anyone.
  • Follow the manufacturers recommendations when flushing the airless sprayer
  • If you notice any leaks in your airless hose, connections, or in the unit itself you should depressurize the unit following the recommendation above and fix the issue. NEVER TRY TO PERFORM MAINTENANCE WITH THE UNIT UNDER PRESSURE.
  • DO NOT TRY TO HOLD A RAG OVER ANY LEAKS IN THE HOSE, REPLACE THE HOSE
  • When flushing the airless sprayer with the tip removed depressurize the sprayer and keep the nozzle under the cleaning solution for maximum safety
  • Wear safety Googles to prevent any fluid from contacting your eyes accidentally
  • Keep the metal guard that protects the trigger from accidentally being pulled
  • Keep your operator’s manual that will have thorough operating and safety instructions included

Preventing Explosion/Fire Risk

A second common safety risk is explosion hazards.  Explosion risks are a possibility due to the flammability of certain coating types. One of the best resources on reducing fires associated with spray applications is NFPA 33.  It is always a good idea to consult with your local authority having jurisdiction on fire safety.  Below are key things to consider and it is always good to also check with your local authority for additional requirements (usually your local fire marshal).

  • Spray in a properly designed area – if you are spraying indoors you will typically need a properly designed area per NFPA 33 that meets requirements for spray applications. Proper ventilation will reduce the level of flammable substance to a level that keeps the risk for fire down.  Additional design factors are important like the build of the walls and light construction.  It is recommended to consider a paint booth by a reputable manufacturer as it will meet all national code requirements which will help reduce risk of fire or explosions.
  • Ensure the airless paint sprayer is grounded properly – An airless paint sprayer should be grounded to prevent the buildup of a static charge. Typically, the airless should be connected to a true earth ground in compliance with your local electrical code.  Airless paint sprayers like these from Graco or Titan have a ground connection area included in their design.
    • Use grounded paint pails and grounded airless hose
    • Ensure you use a grounded wall outlet
    • Ensure you have a 3 prong electrical cord with a ground that is working
  • Keeping the spray area in proper condition – A spray area should not have electrical sources anywhere near them or if there are electrical sources that will be nearby they should meet requirements that are mentioned in NFPA 33. Coating should be stored in a proper fire resistant cabinet and there should not be excessive coating outside of a storage cabinet.  You should also keep debris like rags and used paper masking out of the area as much as possible.
  • Gas and Pneumatic Airless Sprayers – If using a gas or pneumatic airless sprayer you should try to keep the unit outside of the spray booth to reduce any risk of ignition.

Respiratory Risks

  • To reduce respiratory risks you should use an appropriate respirator for the coating you spray
  • You should also spray in an area that meets OSHA requirements for air changes when spraying indoors

Ultimately airless spraying is a fast and efficient way to apply coatings.  By considering proper safety principles, you can ensure that you safely apply coatings using your airless paint sprayer.

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