Hazard summary

Workers who are required to work with or near sandblasters may be at risk of becoming ill, being injured or dying from blasting activity if they are not aware of the possible hazards.

Sandblasting is the process of shooting a blasting material at high speed from a machine onto a surface. This is done to clean the surface of material such as rust or paint. Different blasting materials are used to ensure the surface isn’t damaged.

When choosing a blasting material, you must consider whether or not the material can cause an allergic reaction. In one workplace incident, an Alberta worker who had a nut allergy died after entering an area where nutshells were used as the blasting material.

What you’re required to do by law

Under section 25 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must make sure that:

  • equipment is maintained in good condition
  • everyone in the workplace follows health and safety requirements
  • workers are trained to work safely

Air quality

An industrial establishment must have enough ventilation so that the air quality is not a danger to workers’ health and safety under section 127 of Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments.

Workers must be provided with and use the right breathing protective equipment on a construction project if it is not possible to provide proper natural or mechanical ventilation under section 46 of Regulation 213/91 – Construction Projects.


Under section 130 of Regulation 851 – Industrial Establishments, if a worker may be exposed to a biological, chemical or physical agent that could endanger their safety, you must make sure they are trained to:

  • take precautions and follow proper procedures when handling using and storing equipment
  • use and care for personal protective equipment
  • use emergency measures and procedures

Under section 141.5 of Regulation 213/91 – Construction Projects, if workers are using a suspended work platform or boatswain’s chair, they must have a site-specific work plan that identifies hazards related to:

  • material hoisting
  • cutting
  • grinding
  • sandblasting

Blasting material hazards

As an employer, under section 6 of Regulation 860 – Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), you must provide workers with health and safety information about any hazardous material they may be exposed to, including:

  • information from the supplier about the hazardous material
  • details related to using, storing and handling the material
  • any ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction, irritation or other effect on health
  • all other hazard information you should be aware of

Related requirements

Read Regulation 833 – Control of Exposure to Biological or Chemical Agents for information about worker exposure limits for certain materials and other measures for hazardous biological and chemical agents, such as silica.

You can find control programs for certain materials including sand (silica) in Regulation 490/09 – Designated Substances.

Recommended precautions

Employers and supervisors must make sure that workers have everything they need to safely work with blasting equipment and material.

To help protect workers when working with sandblasters, as an employer, you should:

  • make sure workers know what blasting material is going to be used
  • check if there are any hazards with using the blasting material
  • make sure workers are aware of any hazards with using the blasting material

If you are a worker and have a severe allergy, you should tell your employer.

Contact us

If you would like more information about safety requirements, contact the Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or webohs@ontario.ca.

This resource does not replace the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, and should not be used as or considered legal advice. Health and safety inspectors apply the law based on the facts in the workplace.