DIYers – Handle Your Painting Safety Protocol Like a Pro

Safety Protocol
Are you the kind who likes to DIY big household projects – a non-professional who will always try to “Do It Yourself?” This article is for you. Painting is not the most hazardous household chore that a DIYer can take on, but there are things to know. To have a painting project be safe and successful, consider a few of them here.

High-risk factors

The high-risk factors in a painting project are 1) falling off ladders; 2) using solvents and thinners in unventilated spaces; and 3) slipping, tripping, and falling in the painting workspace.


The most dangerous piece of equipment, without doubt, is the ladder. Most accidents in painting involve ladders. ladder stabilizerAccording to InterNACHI, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, more than 164,000 people go to emergency rooms every year after falling off ladders. More than 300 of them die. Ladders are no joke. We are always advised to have a spotter when we hop on a ladder. A spotter is a second person whose job is to hold and stabilize the ladder. However, if for some crazy reason you can’t get a second person to help, there are other tools to help minimize the risk: belts, straps, and stabilizers. Belts literally strap you to the ladder. Stabilizers help hold the ladder in place, reducing the possibility of slipping.


Paint, and some of the chemicals you use with it, give off fumes and vapors. Always handle paints and thinners in well-ventilated spaces – or, whenever possible, outdoors! Garages are perfect – as long as the door is kept open. Short-term exposure to toxic fumes and vapors can make you nauseous or dizzy. (That’s a sign you’re being poisoned, by the way!) Longer term effects can be liver and kidney damage. Additionally, combustion can take place in enclosed paces: fumes collect, open flame gets lit, and…kaboom. Another emergency room visit. Don’t make the mistake of using paint and solvents in your basement – unless you can open windows up wide and let air flow through the space.

Slips, falls, and trips

It’s easy to get your painting workspace cluttered if you don’t clean up at every stage of the project. Before you know it, sticky drop cloths, used-up rolls of tape, and empty paint cans are blocking your path to the kitchen. Which brings us to hazard #3: slips, trips, and falls. The fix? Tidy as you go. A well-executed paint job happens in stages. Preparation. Priming. Painting. Touching up. Clean up at each stage and lay out your supplies for the next. When it comes to painting, being organized is a safety issue.

Other “Safety” Tools for Your Next Painting Project?

Product Image – ladder tray
  • gloves – the non-slip kind, for gripping potentially slippery tools and ladders
  • tool belt – for hanging loose tools, so you won’t be tempted to climb ladders with arms full of materials
  • non-slip shoes – rubber soles are perfect for gripping ladder rungs
  • ladder tray – so you don’t have to keep going up and down, more ladder safety tips here.
EPA Guidance:EPA Ladder Safety

Stay Focused

Painting requires a bit of focus and to stay safe you have to stay alert. Never be distracted as you climb a ladder. Don’t paint while intoxicated. Save the beer for after. Seriously. The fact is, any one of us can make an error in judgement or lose focus for a critical few seconds. The best safety protocols have layers. Most layers of protection involve more than one person – because we all have blind spots. And a moment of inattention is all it takes to cause an accident. Most fatals falls from ladders happen at lower than 10 feet. Be safe! Good luck!

About STB Painting

At STB Painting in Howard County, Maryland, we have a spotless safety record — and that doesn’t happen by accident. We put safety first. Project managers are on our work sites, managing the crews, at all times. Safety is one reason we don’t subcontract – we’ve trained our people and can guarantee best practices.