Oregon OSHA Health and Safety


February 2016

Ask Technical

What can I do about nauseating paint fumes?

My employer is painting the interior spaces of the building I work in. I had to go home today because the fumes were making me nauseous and giving me a headache. I don't know if it is oil or latex paint. All I know is that it smells very bad. Shouldn't they be painting after hours when employees are not present? What can I do? I don't want to miss any more work.

While Oregon OSHA does not have a rule that explicitly requires an employer to conduct painting after hours, we do require that every employer evaluate the hazards their employees are exposed to, and take appropriate actions to eliminate or control that exposure.

Your employer must have a material safety data sheet (MSDS) or safety data sheet (SDS) for the paint being used. These sheets provide information about the paint's chemical ingredients, hazards, symptoms of exposure, and protective measures. If an employee requests the information, the employer must provide it by the end of that employee's work shift. As an employee, you have a right to this information. If you continue to have symptoms, you may want to see a doctor about it, and take a copy of the MSDS or SDS with you.

You also have the right to file a complaint with Oregon OSHA's Enforcement Section for any unsafe or unhealthy working condition. You can find more information at osha.oregon.gov/workers/.

If you want to receive the Resource Newsletter, sign up for future issues here.

Reprinting, excerpting, or plagiarizing any part of this publication is fine with us. Please send us a copy of your publication or inform the Resource editor as a courtesy. If you have questions about the information in Resource, please call 503-378-3272.

For general information, technical answers, or information about Oregon OSHA services, please call 503-378-3272 or toll-free within Oregon, 800-922-2689.