Three ways painters and decorators can reduce risk on site

23 March 2023

If you run a painting and decorating business or work as a sole trader, you’ll need to be aware of the risks involved. 

Here are three ways to keep your staff safe and avoid making a claim on your painting and decorating insurance.

1. PPE

Wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) is key to keeping harmful chemicals and materials at bay.

Overalls that cover the limbs will protect your skin from spills and flecks of paint. And if you’re using sprays and paint thinners, put on a face mask. Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) will reduce the number of toxins you breathe in, and block dust and other harmful materials on site. Masks should be available to everyone on your team, fit correctly and checked for leaks.

It’s also important to keep your workspace well ventilated and your client’s property clean. Open windows and doors to encourage a flow of clean air into the environment. And use sheeting and masking to protect the area. This will keep paint off carpets, furniture and fittings.

2. Falls from height 

Working at height comes with the trade, and you’ll want to make sure a risk assessment has been carried out before work starts. Every job is different, and it’s important to check the environment you’re working in is as risk free as possible.

It’s tempting to skip this and jump straight into a job, especially if you’re a sole trader who doesn’t rely on a manager to sign off checks. However, minimising risk should be your top priority if you work alone or as part of a team. Fact is, the less time you spend on safety, the higher the risk. 

50% of construction injuries occur because of falls from height. So make sure trestles have guard rails and ladders are secured.

Other risk assessment checks should include: 

  • Clearing the area by removing waste and materials you don’t need to complete the job.
  • Creating safe routes to and from the location. This will prevent trips and falls. 
  • Placing trestles and ladders on a flat surface and check their level before use.

Again, it’s worth stressing – safety should be your top priority when painting and decorating. If you’re working alone in a vacant building and fall, you could find yourself in a very difficult situation. Don’t risk it!

3. Repetitive strain injury 

Performing the same action for hours each day is likely to cause strains in your joints. This is common in the wrists, but is just as common in the neck, shoulders, and back. 

Tilting your head in tight spaces, stretching awkwardly to reach a surface, and poor posture, can lead to discomfort. If left untreated, a minor strain can compound and result in parts of your body experiencing ongoing issues. And if you’re not well enough to work, you’ll have to turn down jobs. 

Pay attention to how you carry out your work. When you lean, are you putting too much weight on one side of your body? When you move your arm, are you leading with the wrist? And when you’re up ladders, are you bending your neck and hunching your shoulders to avoid the ceiling?

Cover the risk and protect your trade 

A thorough risk assessment on site can mean the difference between a job well done and a serious injury. However, there will always be an element of risk that is impossible to predict. When the unexpected happens, you’ll want a painters and decorators insurance policy that covers all bases. 

A fall from height, faulty PPE, and accidental damage to your client’s property can put you out of work, and could see you facing a claim. Legal costs can increase quickly and add pressure to your business. 

Adding public liability to your policy will cover legal costs and pay out if your client’s property is damaged. A public liability policy with Tradesman Saver includes the following at no extra cost: 

  • ÂŁ1 million products & public liability (ÂŁ5 million available)
  • ÂŁ10,000 cover for financial loss 
  • Work abroad cover for up to 14 days 
  • Legal expenses up to ÂŁ250,000 
  • Free counselling helplines, business and tax advice 
  • Free accidental death cover 

For more info on painters and decorators and public liability insurance, visit