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Abrasive Blasting

Please note: Hazard, Risk and Remedy information adapted from Safe Work Australia material. Definition of Abrasive Blasting herein may not represent a legal definition.

Abrasive blasting means propelling a stream of abrasive material at high speed against a surface using compressed air, liquid, steam, centrifugal wheels or paddles to clean, abrade, etch or otherwise change the original appearance or condition of the surface.

Blasting is generally performed in enclosed environments like blasting chambers or cabinets, or on open sites, for example on buildings, bridges, tanks, boats or mobile plant.

The risks associated with abrasive blasting involve the nature of the cleaning substance, the nature of the substances being removed, and the circumstances in which cleaning takes place.

Abrasive blasting processes involve hazardous substances, dust, noise, particulate matter, abrasive blasting equipment and plant. General hazards associated with abrasive blasting processes include manual tasks, working in confined spaces, working at heights, slips, trips and falls, vibration and heat.


Risks involving Abrasive Blasting are the similar to those presented with the use of plant in addition to those related to the high speed propelled abrasive stream used with abrasive blasting.

Breathing in small particles of dust can scar lung tissue. Silica dust can cause silicosis (stiffening and scarring of lungs). This creates shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain. Lead dust can result in lead poisoning. Noise exposure can result in permanent hearing damage. Manual handling tasks can result in strains, sprains, fractures, dislocations, bruises and overuse injuries. Slips, trips and falls can cause injuries to arms, legs and the head.

Working in confined spaces can result in burns, crush injuries, electrocution, suffocation, poisoning, brain damage and death. With prolonged use of abrasive blasting equipment, the vibration can cause persistent microscopic damage to nerves and blood capillaries.

When a person is subjected to heat, it can result in heat stress, discomfort, irritability, dehydration, reduced concentration, heat-rash, reduced tolerance to chemicals and noise, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.


It’s important to perform a thorough hazard identification and risk assessment using a targeted process. This process needs to be considered from the moment of purchase through to disposal considering factors such as the hiring of device, installation and commission of device, instruction, training and supervision of duties, usage of device in the workplace, inspecting device, storing device, decommissioning and dismantling of device. Certain kinds of Abrasive Blasting devices may require a licence from Comcare to operate. Some high-risk devices must also be registered with Comcare and may require a separate high-risk work licence.


Information SourceContents
Code of Practice - How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety
Code of Practice - Abrasive BlastingCode of Practice for mitigating risks specifically involving abrasive blasting.
Comcare – Guide to lead risk work notificationsA guide on obligations for notifying lead-risk work for agencies and licensees governed under Commonwealth WHS legislation
Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011– Part 7.2 LeadInformation on the regulations that apply to lead-risk work for agencies and licensees governed under Commonwealth WHS legislation
Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011- regulation 392 - meaning of lead processRegulatory information regarding the processing of lead


Information sourceWhat it contains
Incident notification - Part 3, Section 35 to 37 of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011The legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare
Comcare - Guide to incident notificationHelps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the WHS Act
Page last updated: 31 Mar 2016