Dangers of DIY Paint Projects

A. Outsourcing To Contractors

When trustees rely on gaining information from various contractors I often get a similar response and concern. Trustees inform me that they find it difficult to evaluate prices because:

a.    The prices differ drastically.
b.    The specifications or scope of work is different.
c.    The contractors approach to maintenance is varied.
d.    Guarantees are unclear.

How can we tell which proposal is the correct one? Is the cheapest quote the best route?

Here is a preferred system to consider:

1.    Independent Building Audit Report.
2.    Specifications and negotiating of Manufacturer’s guarantees.
3.    Third Party Tender process based on specifications. (Closed tender process)
4.    Appointment of contractor – Contract.
5.    Employing a Third Party Quality Assuror – Monitoring.
6.    Completion – Release of Third Party Certificates and Manufacturer’s Guarantees.
7.    Implementation of Life Cycle Costing and Maintenance Program.

B. DIY Painting Project

Tackling those maintenance jobs internally comes with it’s own sets of challenges:

1    Where can we get a reliable specification, scope of work and cost of project?
2    Where do we source our labour for the project?
3    Which paint should we use?
4    Who is going to monitor the work and manage the labour?
5    What guarantee will we have?

Either way the correct assessment is crucial. Making use of a Common Property Maintenance Specialist will assist with both options. This will ensure that the building has been audited for current condition, failures, requirements and ongoing maintenance. This will allow the trustees to compile a maintenance schedule and costing that will have long-term benefits and protection.

The Body Corporate and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993

For DIY paint projects we must consider local and government regulations and will come into affect when trustees employ labour directly. Making use of a small informal paint contractor constitutes employment. The smaller contractor will not have all the required insurances and official requirements and the employer (Body Corporate) therefore becomes the responsible party.

In general conversation we find there are many who have never heard of the Occupational Health and Safety Act or there are those who are vaguely aware of it and there are those who think that it only applies to factories.  Unfortunately the Dept of Manpower for whatever reasons are essentially reactive rather than proactive and so will arrive on the scene after an accident.  Ignorance of the law is, of course, no excuse and so, if someone suffers an injury or can show that they were subject to exposure to a hazardous substance they can come down on heavily on the subject and if it can be shown that proper procedures have not been followed the culprit will be sought.  This can be followed by criminal proceedings and the TRUSTEES are in the hot seat!  

It is suggested that any one employing any person to carry out work should take a look at the act.  This is available on the web at www.acts.co.za.   The definition of an employee from the Act.

"Employee - Subject to the provisions of subsection (2), any person who is employed by or works for an employer and who receives or is entitled to receive any remuneration or who works under the direction or supervision of an employer or any other person."

"Employer - Subject to the provisions of subsection (2), any person who employs or provides work for any person and remunerates that person or expressly or tacitly undertakes to remunerate him, but excludes a labour broker as defined in section 1(1) of the Labour Relations Act, 1956 (Act No. 28 of 1956)."

In order to see what is required a quick look at sections 8 and 9 might give an idea of what ought to be covered.

First some definitions - note how broad they are:

Danger - Anything which may cause injury or damage to persons or property.
Hazard - A source of or exposure to danger.

There are two aspects to ensure and that is that safe procedures are followed by employees as well anyone employed as a subcontractor. One of the basic concepts of the OHS Act is that responsibility cannot be delegated - authority - yes but not responsibility - no!  So if anything goes wrong the employer must show that he was not negligent.  The Act has been compiled with the knowledge of the reticence of employees to use PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) because it is uncomfortable and this has been catered for by making the employer responsible.

So, if the gardener when using the weed-eater neglects to use the face shield with which he has been provided and injures his eye, then the employer can be held responsible.  He is duty bound not only to provide a face shield but also to ensure that it is used.  It is not acceptable that the employer says that he gave him a piece of protective equipment he must also ensure that it is used.

If an employee falls of a ladder, and that ladder proves to be faulty - blame lies with the employer not the employee!   All equipment must be inspected regularly.

Another sword of Damocles lies in the use of hazardous chemical substances. By definition a Hazardous Chemical Substance means any toxic, harmful, corrosive, irritant or asphyxiant substance, or a mixture of such substances for which –

a). An occupational exposure limit is prescribed; or
b). An occupational exposure limit is not prescribed, but which creates a hazard to health.

The first item is covered by the Act itself and the second in SANS 10265.

This brings up the question - How do you know?  The problem lies in the rules for labelling so far the responsible bodies (whoever they may be in this context) are concerned there is no legislation for general chemicals.  

At the same time employers are obliged to have on file information pertaining to any substances or preparations used by them.

So, when you buy chemical products for use by your staff in terms of the Act, you are obliged to ensure that they are used in a safe way.  Chemical products include such thins as paints, cleaning preparation and pool chemicals.

It may appear to be using a sledgehammer to kill a gnat at times but what is the safe route for all?  First thing is to acquaint yourself with the Act.   

I gather there are those who think that by passing the problem on to sub-contractor but I don't think that this gets around the problem.  All subcontractors have to comply with the requirements.  

If you need to know more training workshops on safety and the proper way to use paint are available from the South African Paint Training Institute (SAPITI).  You will find them on the web at www.sapma.org.za. 0r email info@sapma.org.za  

We include a few Definitions and items from the act:

Chief executive officer
In relation to a body corporate or an enterprise conducted by the State, means the person who is responsible for the overall management and control of the business of such body corporate or enterprise.

Anything which may cause injury or damage to persons or property.

Health and safety standard
Any standard, irrespective of whether or not it has the force of law, which, if applied for the purposes of this Act, will in the opinion of the Minister promote the attainment of an object of this Act.

An incident as contemplated in section 24(1).

Occupational hygiene
The anticipation, recognition, evaluation and control of conditions arising in or from the workplace, which may cause illness or adverse health effects to persons.

Includes any building, vehicle, vessel, train or aircraft.

“Every employer shall provide and maintain, as far as is reasonably practicable, a working environment that is safe and without risk to the health of his employees.”

“Every employer shall conduct his undertaking in such a manner as to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, that persons other than those in his employment who may be directly affected by his activities are not thereby exposed to hazards to their health or safety.”


Know your responsibilities before employing labour in DIY paint projects.

Frederik Nel,