Introduction Significant exposure to hexamethylene diisocyanate (HDI) might occur during spray painting in car body repair shops. Since HDI induces asthma it should be used in properly designed spray booths wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), i.e. an air-fed breathing apparatus (BA). A2P2 masks may fail to protect without warning. A federal campaign on safe use of chemicals in car body repair shops was set up in 2010. In this study, we assessed the impact of the campaign.
Methods Between September 2011–2012, 135 car body repair shops were screened by trained prevention advisors. Observation of the workplaces were done using a checklist assessing the condition of the spray booths (ventilation, negative pressure, visual leaks, warning systems, position of the operator) as well as the use of air-fed BA or A2P2 masks (replacement filters, fit test, storage, audit).
Results Ventilation in the spray booths was sufficient in 75%. Negative pressure was present in 68%. There was no visual leak at the door in 98%. Position of the operator towards the spray booth was correct in 89%. In 52% there was a warning system in case of insufficient ventilation.
The recommended air-fed BA was used in 20% of the car shops. In the other 80% (n = 108), spray painters wore A2P2 masks, however without following the guidelines for safe use: no scheduled filter replacement in 61%; no fit test in 81%; no proper storage in 56%, no audit in 77%. Only in 11 of these 108 cases all conditions above were met.
Conclusion Most of the spray booths were in good condition. However, despite the intensive federal campaign, 72% of the spray painters did not use the correct PPE (either air-fed BA or correctly used A2P2 masks). We hypothesise that campaigns should be accompanied by a change of safety behaviour program.
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