Being safe and protected from injury is a huge priority for Color Theory.  By comparison painting is a relatively safe trade in terms of operating machinery or dealing with harmful substances.  The industry as a whole is also undergoing many changes to make painting even safer.  The primary concerns for painters are ladder safety, roof safety and airborne vapors from paint called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and lead based paint on homes painted prior to 1978.  

Ladder Safety

Ladders can be scary but when used properly are not to be feared.  When working on a step ladder or extension ladder make sure to never reach higher than 4 feet about the ladder. Avoid standing on the top 2-4 rungs and don't over reach or twist your body.  Make sure the ladder is securely standing on level ground.  When leveling the ground use approved tools like the Ladder Pivot tool to level the ground or roof you are working on. Make sure the ladder is not damaged.  If it is, tag it and remove it from the job site.  When placing the ladder against a surface make sure that while standing erect, the arm can reach out directly and grab a ladder rung of equal height.  When using a ladder to board a roof, make sure it is extended 3 feet above the roof line.  Using rope attachments or another team member is a good idea to secure the ladder.  Ladders are made from different materials.  Aluminum ladders are light weight and easier to move around.  Although, they may feel a little wobbly and shouldn't be used around exposed electrical wiring.  Carbon fiber ladders are not conductive but at the larger extension ladder height become very heavy.  Never try to carry an extension ladder unless it is first collapsed.  When the ladder is too heavy ask a partner for help.  Telescoping ladders are very useful for tall ceilings in interior spaces.  When using the telescoping ladder make sure the latches click into place before climbing.  Try to plan the extension so that the unused rungs are at the top.  When collapsing the ladder be careful to keep your fingers out of the way of the rungs as they can come down fast and pinch your fingers.  Ladders are a necessary part of being a painter.  If you are uncomfortable with being high up on a ladder, perhaps you might consider another profession.


VOCs are organic chemicals with a very low boiling point.  At room temperature these chemicals are released into the air and produce an oder.  However, because of cost, environmental concerns and increased regulation most paint manufacturers are moving toward low or no VOC paints.  For the most part we use low VOC paints which have emissions lower than 50 grams/liter.  To help protect from paints or coatings with a higher VOC rating use a protective respirator mask and open windows.  

Lead Based Paint

Lead Based Paints are no longer used or available in the painting industry.  However, some houses were painted prior to 1978 which means their paint has lead in it.  If you suspect a house has lead, alert a supervisor or the homeowner and test the surface.  

OSHA rules and regulations as they pertain to painting and paint contractors.

OSHA rules for painters

OSHA is the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation. There are several rules and standards for safety set forth by OSHA. The video playlist to the left provides some specific topics on issues related to painters.  For more information regarding OSHA go to