5 Hazards Mechanics Face on the Job and How to Prevent Them
Common injuries for mechanics include sprains, strains, tears, chemical burns, eye injuries, loss of limbs/digits, and falls. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 620,000 were employed in the automotive service industry as of May 2020. That year, nearly 10,000 suffered nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses that required days off work.1 However, most incidents can be prevented. Below we will cover some of the common work related injuries for car mechanics, with auto shop safety tips that can reduce the risk.
1. Sprains and Tears
Automotive technicians do a lot of heavy lifting. This puts them at risk of back injuries and various other types of sprains and strains. Some of the most severe automotive shop accidents can happen while operating heavy-duty tools, moving machinery, or working under the hood of a car. The resulting injuries can have long-term, life-changing consequences.
You can mitigate the risk by encouraging employees to perform warm-up exercises in the morning. Just 10 minutes of stretching and flexing can reduce the chances of workers suffering strains, sprains, and tears. Also, use safer techniques for lifting heavy objects and mechanical lifting devices for the heaviest items.
2. Repetitive Motion Disorders
Repetitive motions, such as turning manual screwdrivers, using wrenches, and frequent lifting can put constant stress on one part of the body. Muscles and ligaments can be seriously strained by working in an awkward position for long periods of time. Long-term and even permanent injuries can result, but their effects may develop gradually.
Repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome can be prevented by having another worker assist in a job, using the proper tools and machinery, and ensuring employees get adequate breaks and rest time. More frequent, shorter rest periods help relieve strain and fatigue. Encourage workers to maintain good posture and rotate them to different tasks so they’re not always relying on the same movement.
3. Chemical and Particle Exposure
Paints, primers, fillers, and polishes are used throughout the day in auto body repair shops. Hazardous chemicals can cause respiratory harm when inhaled or burn the skin or eyes. Many chemicals are also flammable. A lot of tools and machinery can release particles into the air, such as cutters, grinders, and buffers. Some automotive components, such as older clutch and brake systems, contain asbestos, which puts workers at risk of exposure.
Proper labeling is the first line of defense against chemical exposure. Potentially hazardous products should come with information on safe handling and how to handle a case of exposure. Containers should be checked for leaks, expiration dates, and for tight closure. When handling chemicals, workers should wear protective gloves and goggles with side shields. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants protects workers from chemicals and particles that can cut or puncture the skin.
4. Slips, Trips, and Falls
Grease, paint, and a variety of liquids used in an auto shop can be quite slippery. It’s not uncommon for these to spill onto the floor. If an unsuspecting worker walks over a slick area, they can fall and suffer bruises, bone fractures, or concussions. An accidental fall can even result in death.
Fortunately, these common injuries for mechanics can be easily prevented by quickly cleaning up spills when they occur. Put up warning signs or cones to alert workers of slick areas. Also encourage them to wear closed-toed, anti-skid shoes that are more resistant to slipping.
5. Mechanical Injuries
Chains, winches, sprayers, compressors, shears, grinders, and other equipment can easily cause cuts and lacerations if misused. One wrong move can cause a burn or crush a worker’s hand. Many have suffered severed fingers and limbs in this manner as well.
To reduce the risk of injury, make the operating instructions of power tools and equipment accessible, and train employees how to use each tool appropriately. Where necessary, install tool/machine guards. There should also be a designated cabinet or space to store tools after a job is complete. Also, be sure to properly inspect and maintain these items.
Another preventative measure is to supply protective gear and proper clothing and uniforms to your staff.
Prudential Uniforms for Mechanic Safety
Prudential Overall Supply specializes in uniforms and cleaning products for various industries, including the automotive industry. We stock strong, breathable, and versatile technician shirts, as well as industrial pants, coveralls, vests, and jackets. Shirts for popular automotive brands are available too. In addition, we supply nitrile gloves, storage systems, cleaning chemicals, microfiber towels and mops, facility mats, and hand sanitation products that can help prevent common injuries for mechanics.