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What Happened?

An operative on a project received a compressed air injury to the palm of his hand from a paint sprayer.


Why it Happened?

  • The IP was involved in the assembly and spray painting of site permit booths.
  • The nozzle of the sprayer blocked, and the IP started to clean/unblock the nozzle.
  • It appears that while disassembling the nozzle, the IP inadvertently touched the trigger releasing some of the stored compressed paint which remained in the line.
  • The IP received an injection injury to the palm of his hand. The size of the puncture wound was approximately 2mm with a small area of localized swelling.

What’s Been Found?

  • The operative was wearing gloves, but the paint and compressed air penetrated the glove before piercing the IP’s skin and injecting paint into the IP’s hand.
  • The operative turned off the compressor but did not fully de-pressurise the system (correct procedure) before he started cleaning/ unblocking the equipment.
  • The spray-painting tool works at a deceivingly high pressure as it leaves the nozzle in the form of a narrow jet before dispersing or misting out.



  • Manufacturer’s Instructions – to be present and reviewed before using any new tool or piece of equipment.
  • Operators of high-pressure guns and their supervisors to be informed about the seriousness of such injuries.

Lessons Learnt

  • High-pressure injection injuries need immediate medical treatment.
  • Research has shown that patients usually have minimal complaints following the event.  Mostly there is only a small puncture wound to the skin.  After some hours swelling, pain and sensibility impairments appear.
  • The initially mild symptoms lead to a delay in seeking treatment and so damage can spread out, increasing the chance of permanent complications and amputation.
  • Consider provision of ‘Line of Fire’ awareness training.

First Aid Response

  • Do take the Injured Party to A&E as fast as possible
  • Do Not explore the puncture wound
  • Do Not use a compression bandage
  • Do Not remove the material with a solvent
  • Do Not attempt to push the fluid to the outside or make a relieving incision for decompression
  • Do Not apply an ice pack to reduce swelling.


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