Sandblasting Safety: Tips and Best Practices

Sandblasting is an effective method to clean and prepare surfaces but comes with some inherit risks. The considerations vary, depending on the media used. It’s fair to say that sand is not the only media sandblasting contractors currently use. Garnet, glass beads, crushed glass, and other media are actually more popular these days basically due to the sand’s high risks.

Overall, all abrasive materials come with some risks, mainly due to the material itself, the intensity of the blasting process, the residual particles released and spread during the project, and the high pressure of blasting.

Although sandblasting solutions are ideal for quick and effective surface cleaning and preparation, the safety risks during and often after the process are plenty. Let’s talk about the dangers and suggest the best practices for safe sandblasting.

Possible risks with sandblasting

Sandblasting Safety: Tips and Best Practices

As we said, the abrasive materials used for each project vary. Although some are more dangerous than others, the overall safety considerations are summed up on the following list.

  •          Respiratory problems. One of the main problems with sandblasting is the large amounts of dust left behind. That’s a common consideration with all dry blasting techniques. A lot of dust is created. Dust can seriously affect the lungs. Dust creates breathing problems. When blasting metal surfaces, the released dust may contain toxic particles that could lead to much worse health conditions.
  •          Skin irritations and injuries. The dust released during the blasting process can cause skin irritations. If this is glass media, there might be injuries.
  •          Eye damage. The dust and all particles released during sandblasting may also hurt the eyes. Larger pieces or particles that cannot be flushed out may cause serious eye damage.
  •          Hearing issues. Sandblasting machines utilize powerful motors to propel media at high speeds. The motor noise can cause serious hearing problems.

How to mitigate sandblasting hazards

One way to mitigate risks is to avoid sand as the media for the blasting process. The health hazards are much greater than any other media. With that said, let’s go through the best sandblasting safety measures and practices.

Sandblasting Safety: Tips and Best PracticesSafety measures

  •          Prefer wet blasting operations to avoid the dust created with dry blasting. That’s provided that wet blasting is suitable for the effectiveness of your project.
  •          It’s better to prefer organic and non-toxic abrasive materials. Organic materials include baking soda, walnut shells, ice, and more.
  •          Good ventilation is key. Sandblasting in poorly ventilated areas is never a good idea. Dust should be able to be immediately released through powerful ventilation systems.
  •          Avoid sandblasting on windy days. Dust travels and may affect the health of people nearby. In this context, it’s best if a job is done when a worksite is nearly empty of people. Other people must be at a safe distance.
  •          Also, avoid eating and drinking during sandblasting or anywhere near an area where a job is in progress.
  •          Once the sandblasters complete their job, the area must be cleaned but with wet or dry vacuums; not by using compressed air that will only create more dust.
Sandblasting Safety: Tips and Best PracticesBest practices
  •          One of the best practices is to constrain dust spread by doing the job in blasting cabinets, when possible. In large work sites, it’s wise to use strong ventilation systems.
  •          Always hire professional sandblasting contractors with the experience to do the job correctly and take the required safety measures for the mitigation of risks.
  •          Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a must. The sandblasters must wear protective clothing, from head to toe, including goggles, coveralls, face shields, and more.
  •          The equipment used for sandblasting must be checked thoroughly. This is crucial for safety. Accidents may happen if something is broken or the connections are not secure.
  •          Emergencies happen. When you agree to work with a sandblasting company, make sure they are prepared to handle any emergency on the spot.

Sandblasting does not have to be a risky method. Knowledge is power, as they say. If you know the possible risks from the start and follow a safety protocol, everything will work just fine and you will have your surface sandblasted as required without tragic repercussions. Remember, safety comes first.