Employees in the auto body industry in Pennsylvania face a variety of health and safety hazards whenever they are in the workshops. If you are an auto mechanic, some of the dangers you will encounter include contact with toxic chemical substances, mechanical equipment that can cause amputation injuries and slip-and-fall hazards that can result in traumatic brain injuries.
Your employer is responsible for your safety and health, and he or she must provide a safe workplace environment. Furthermore, it is the employer's task to inform you about all the dangerous situations you may encounter and to provide safety training to teach you how to prevent on-the-job injuries.
Potential health and safety risks
Once you are aware of the potential health and safety risks, it will mainly be up to you to protect yourself. By keeping your work environment clean and complying with safety regulations and manufacturer's operating instructions, you might go home safely after every shift. The following hazards may threaten your safety in the auto body shop:
- Repetitive motion disorders: Using particular parts of your body to do repetitive tasks can put stress on individual muscles. Resulting disorders can include tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger and bursitis.
- Particle and chemical exposure: Your job will put you in areas where primers, paints, fillers and polishes produce airborne particles and dust that you may inhale. Working with clutches and brakes may also expose you to asbestos -- a known cause of lung cancer. Always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment to protect you from skin contact and inhalation of these dangerous substances.
- Lifting techniques: Learning proper lifting techniques may prevent back injuries and muscle sprains and strains. Ask for help when an object is too heavy to lift alone, and use your leg muscles rather than your back muscles when lifting anything.
- Noise exposure: Excessive occupational noise from the tools of the trade can damage your hearing. To prevent hearing loss, you must use hearing protection such as earmuffs or earplugs when you work with noise-producing tools or in an area where others work with it.
- Slip-and-fall hazards: Fractures, bruises, concussions and other injuries can follow a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident. Cleaning any spills of the slippery and greasy substances of your trade -- such as oil, grease and paint -- might prevent you from slipping. Random, out-of-place objects that stand around can be trip hazards, so proper housekeeping is essential to secure your safety in the auto body shop.
- Mechanical injuries: Sprockets and gears of mechanical equipment such as pulling chains, winches, sprayers and compressors can cause traumatic injuries. Without personal protective equipment, machine safeguards and following the manufacturer's instructions, burns, crushed hands, cuts, severed digits and other amputation injuries may follow.
Despite compliance with all safety regulations, a workplace accident can still occur. You may find comfort in knowing that the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system aims to assist injured workers by paying for medical expenses and lost income if injuries cause temporary disability. Further assistance is available from an attorney with experience in the navigation of workers' compensation benefits claims.