Painter and decorator

Risk level

Brightening up people's lives

Being a painter and decorator is a diverse and flexible job. In addition to painting walls inside and out, the job can include wallpapering and using special paint effects and marbling techniques. Prep work is an important part of the job and can include removing old wallpaper, filling and sanding down surfaces. Some aspects can be risky, but there are good ways of protecting yourself against eczema and asthma.

What are the risks?

Preparation is important to ensure a good and durable finish. As such, painters spend a lot of time washing, filling and sanding down. Dust from sanded-down filler dries out and irritates the skin, and can also irritate the airways and cause problems if you have asthma.

Painters need to wash their hands, tools and equipment, which is tough on their skin.

Paint and filler contain preservatives that cause allergies. This can result in eczema and make the skin dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch.

Prevention and avoidance

A good selection of protective equipment is available to painters, and if you get into the habit of using it you can avoid any problems.

Gloves and long-sleeved work clothes are good for keeping dust and paint off your body. Masks and dust filters can be used to avoid breathing in toxic fumes and dust. Also look after your skin by rubbing a moisturising cream into your hands.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to know more about allergy and eczema when working as a painter and decorator, get in touch with your school nurse or careers adviser.