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The Paint and Coatings Industry: Making Essential Products, Supporting Critical Infrastructure in the fight against COVID-19                                             

Who We Are 

Australia’s paint and coatings manufacturers employ approximately 7,500 people at sites around Australia, which includes manufacturing, research and development and distribution. Many more Australians jobs rely on Australia’s paint and coatings manufacturers, including painters, construction, retail, logistics and other manufacturing industries. The industry produces $2.7 billion worth of paint and coating products annually. More than 80 per cent of the paint and coatings sold in Australia is made locally.

What We Produce 

Virtually every man-made product has a coating. Coatings provide additional and much needed performance characteristics to the finished product, providing protection from degradation like corrosion, abrasion, high or low temperatures, chemicals and ultraviolet rays, moisture, and microbes, among a host of aggressive or destructive conditions.

Industrial Coatings are typically factory-applied and include finishes on medical equipment, food service products like cans, jars and packaging, transportation equipment, paper, metal building products and much more. Architectural coatings are used for the protection and general maintenance of residential, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings like hospitals and healthcare facilities. Specialty coatings include high performance products that protect bridges, the electricity grid and telecommunication networks; marine coatings and anti-corrosion marine coatings developed for the Navy and shipping; and traffic and road markings. 

Why Our Products are Essential 

Every single manufacturing process that results in the production of a non-liquid product includes a process for coating the finished good, making the coatings industry an integral part of and partner to the larger manufacturing industry.

The coatings industry is essential to numerous other industries, including those on the frontline of the coronavirus response. The industry supports health care, hospitals, defence, food, hygiene, agriculture, energy, public works, and information technology systems, as well as others.

Examples of the Critical Contribution of the Coatings Industry 

Without coatings, many other industries and parts of our society would greatly struggle or even fail:

  • Life-saving equipment, such as ventilators and vital signs monitors, have multiple parts and components that must be coated to protect them and ensure that they work as designed. Each of these parts will be made at a different location, by different parts suppliers. Each of these parts suppliers will buy their protective coatings from multiple sources and need the ability to choose the supplier which will have the necessary coating available as rapidly as possible.
  • Other critical pandemic-related suppliers and equipment require coatings supplied by operational paint and coatings manufacturers. These include everything from swab sticks to endotracheal tubes, protective clothing to respirators and sample transport media. For example, protective suits and over- shoe booties are coated to make sure they perform as needed. If coatings manufacturing companies and upstream suppliers and distributors —close, it will severely impact manufacturers’ ability to supply these essential parts necessary to healthcare products and personal protective equipment;
  • Waterproofing coatings are essential in preventing “Sick Building Syndrome:” waterproofing the envelope of new concrete buildings is crucial in preventing mold and mildew buildup, which can cause respiratory-related illnesses. These products are used mostly for remediation projects of existing facilities, including nursing homes, hospitals, and other areas where public health is critical.
  • Coatings applied to consumer goods and packaging are necessary to maintain the integrity, sanitary nature and security of the product.

Coatings are Essential to Critical Infrastructure

  • HealthCare/Public Health
  • Public Works
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Transportation and Logistics
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Chemicals
  • Defence production
  • Construction
  • Communications and Information Technology

Our Continued Commitment to Worker Safety in Response to COVID-19 

The safety and health of our industry’s employees, customers and users has always been paramount to our companies. Paint and coatings production is highly automated, and most people do not work in close proximity to complete necessary tasks. In the face of COVID-19, paint and coatings manufacturers have incorporated social distancing and increased hygiene measures at their manufacturing plants, and instituted specific practices to successfully accomplish heightened worker safety. These include taking the following steps:

  • adoption of workplace measures to meet the requirements of Health and WHS;
  • modified work schedules to afford additional protections with staggered start times and limited shift overlaps as well as splitting meal breaks to maintain social distancing;
  • instituted regular cleaning of shared areas and facilities as well as workstations;
  • Paint and coatings production and R&D cannot occur in a “work from home program,” but administrative roles are already working remotely;
  • R&D facilities conducting lab work maintain social distancing and effective hygiene (i.e., thoroughly wiping down surfaces with isopropyl alcohol/water or disinfectant solutions).

These are only a few examples of how companies in the coatings industry have increased focus on worker health and safety in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Essential Part of the COVID-19 Response 

The paint and coatings industry is a vital and irreplaceable part of our country’s economy, and is prepared to do its part for workers, families and our nation during this time. As such, the manufacture, distribution, and research and development of paint and coatings are essential to the critical infrastructure of the Australia and must be permitted to participate in the solution to the COVID-19 response.

Leveraging our Technical Manufacturing Capability to make Hand Sanitiser 

Paint and coatings manufacturers are uniquely positioned to assist in meeting the unprecedented demand for hand sanitiser. Their plants are designed to mix large batches of raw materials, they have the necessary dangerous goods licences and their work forces are trained and experienced with the handling of hazardous and dangerous goods in a manufacturing environment.

See Media Release


Australian Paint Manufacturers’ Federation Inc. Level 11, 10 Queen Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3001