Administration (OSHA) requires manufacturers to provide this informational sheet for coating materials,
thinners, or other chemicals that you use and store at the job site. The MSDS must also be posted for
easy viewing by users and OSHA inspectors. Your painters need to be instructed on how to read and
interpret the information. (See Appendix E for sample MSDSs.) The MSDS may be used for several
purposes, such as-
Identifying chemical ingredients in coating materials.
Assessing technical data like flash points, lower explosion level (LEL), upper explosion
level (UEL), OSHA's permissible exposure limit (PEL), odor, and health hazards.
Selecting proper personal-protective practices and establishing proper storage practices.
Determining measures to take when cleaning up spills or leaks.
1-8. Fire Hazards. Most paint products are highly flammable and extremely dangerous when they or
their vapors are exposed to open flames, sparks, or excessive temperatures. Flammable liquids and
vapors, especially the latter, are by far the chief causes of fire and explosion. Forms of flammable
liquids and vapors are solvents, oil paints, and some components in other paints.
a. Solvents. Most paint products are flammable because of the solvents they contain. Solvents
are highly volatile and some will flash in the presence of a flame or at temperatures below the safe
temperature recommended on the paint can label. Because of this, they may be safe in cold weather yet
be potentially dangerous in midsummer. It is safer to use paint materials that will flash at temperatures
significantly higher than the painting temperature since environmental changes can quickly change a
safe condition to a dangerous one. For example-
(1) Safety and blending of flash points. Mineral spirits with a flash point of 105€F are
considerably safer to use than a varnish that is a naphtha and benzene compound which has a flash point
of 50€F or less. Furthermore, paint, varnish, or lacquer that contains a mixture of solvents will flash at a
temperature close to that of the most volatile solvent. This is because the most volatile solvent vaporizes
more quickly than the others.
NOTE: A low-flashing paint material cannot be made safe by blending it with another paint
having a higher flash point.
(2) Vapor concentration and static electricity in enclosed spaces. Low-flashing solvents
volatilize or vaporize readily, and they are most likely to bring about high concentrations of vapor in
enclosed spaces. This is especially true when you are spraying, since spray paints usually contain low-
flashing solvents to accelerate drying. A spray gun, which applies from a pint to a quart of paint per
minute, will cause a much greater concentration of vapor than a dozen brush painters. Every gallon of
solvent in the paint is capable of creating large amounts of potentially dangerous gas. This condition is
even more dangerous in confined spaces. If a critical ratio of solvent vapor to air is reached in this
space, it is possible to cause an explosion in the presence of a flame or spark. This is