Safety & Regulations

Safety & Regulations

Safety Basics

Concern for worker and workplace safety, along with environmental protection and conservation, have resulted in codes regulating the placement, construction and use of spray booths. The numerous codes and agencies governing spray booth classification, installation and operation can be confusing. Well-versed in North American safety standards — including OSHA, NFPA and UL — GFS works with customers to design, engineer, manufacture and install equipment for their unique needs. The objective is worry-free planning, thanks to GFS’ in-house team of project managers.

OSHA LogoAt a minimum, a spray booth should help you comply with the following codes and regulations:

  • National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 33
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
  • BOCA National Fire Prevention Code (National Building Code)
  • Uniform Fire Code (UFC)
  • Uniform Building Code (UBC)
  • SBCCI Standard Fire Prevention Code (Standard Building Code)

A new spray booth installation must be approved by the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). Since fire, electrical and building codes vary from one area to another, you should consult local inspection authorities before purchasing a spray booth.

Multitudes of agencies dictate compliance. Depending on your state and region, one or more federal, state and local agencies may play a part in approving a new booth installation. Your local inspection authorities might be officials of federal, state or local agencies, regional officials such as fire chiefs or marshals, building or electrical inspectors, fire prevention bureau inspectors, labor or health department inspectors, or insurance inspectors or representatives of rating bureaus who evaluate insurance risk. Greater environmental concern has also led to increased involvement by new agencies having jurisdiction.

The AHJ will help determine which equipment is necessary to meet local codes. They can also provide guidance on electrical work, fire protection systems and the placement of the spray booth in the finishing area and in relation to property lines.

Understanding the codes and how they apply to spray booths helps in the identification of the most appropriate booth.

Emissions Control

A permit for emissions is required before installation begins. Failure to apply for, or being late in filing for and receiving, a permit to operate an “air contaminant source” can cause delays in installing and operating the equipment. The permit to operate is needed before the equipment can be used, and often before installation and assembly can begin. The application forms are often complicated and, when completed, the application is subject to administrative review before approval.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops regulations for environmental emissions. A permit for a booth is issued through its state agency, the Department of Environmental Quality, which conducts a review to predict the level of pollutants the booth will emit.

Environment Protection Agency

EPA LogoThe EPA has no jurisdiction over actual paint booth design; it regulates the allowable amount of toxic material in exhaust stack emissions, as well as liquid and solid waste streams.

The EPA’s standards place limitations on the amount of toxic material in the form of solvent vapor, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), entering the environment through the booth’s exhaust stack. A spray booth is not an emission control device — it is designed to only collect solid particulate, not solvent vapors.

If the predicted level of emissions is acceptable, the state agency issues a permit to operate an air contaminant source. If the pollutant level is unacceptable, the EPA may deny the permit, require the use of exhaust air treatment equipment or require the use of a different coating material.

To comply with EPA requirements, exhausted air may need to be treated with equipment installed outside the spray booth. Carbon absorption systems, or incineration systems, are acceptable methods for collecting VOCs.


Penalties for non-compliance are becoming more severe. It pays to become familiar with all the agencies having jurisdiction.