There are over 180,000 auto body and glass repair technicians in the U.S., and most find their profession to be highly-rewarding. But due to the nature of their work, collision repair professionals are oftentimes exposed to potentially unhealthy and dangerous workplace conditions. As customers we only see the transformative outcomes produced by body shop technicians and not the behind-the-scenes, daily physical hazards they face. In an effort to safeguard their workers, reputable body shops create safer work environments using numerous health and safety measures. Most are mandated by the Federal Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), while others are just plain common sense. Here are a few of the more important safety precautions auto body shops use to protect their technicians.
Body shop professionals routinely work with fillers, solvents, paints, primers and polishes while prepping and painting a car’s exterior. Repair jobs also require a lot of sanding and metal grinding. All these processes produce dust, vapors and fumes that contain harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that can damage a technician’s lungs, skin and eyes. As a result, the painting and finishing is done in special spray booths that meet strict ventilation standards. Technicians also wear protective clothing to shield their eyes and skin, and use oxygen-supplied respirators so they won’t breathe the airborne chemicals produced during surface preparation and painting. If a paint spill occurs, technicians are directed to promptly wipe it up to avoid accidents.
If you’ve ever been around a body shop, you know how loud the mechanical sounds can be. Now picture a technician who works in that noise level every day. Grinders, sanders, lifts, sprayers, compressors and other tools of the trade are constantly in use, generating loud noises that put auto body professionals at risk for hearing loss. To protect their ears technicians are required to don earplugs or earmuffs while out in the shop area.
According to OSHA, roughly 30 percent of all workplace accidents in the U.S. are related to slips and falls. Within a body shop setting, spilled grease, paint and other liquids on the floor create potential hazards, along with tools that were not properly put away after use. Technicians know that a tidy work area is a safer one, and are instructed to clean up spills immediately, stow away their tools when not in use, and to also wear shoes with non-slip soles for added traction.
Auto body and glass technicians routinely work with compressors, sprayers, winches, pulling chains, lifts and other types of heavy equipment. Most contain moveable parts like gears, sprockets and belts which can result in bodily harm if the proper safety precautions are not followed. When accidents strike it’s easy for a collision repair professional to sustain cuts, crushed hands and feet, broken digits, burns and other injuries from the mechanical tools they’re using. As a precaution, prudent shops require their technicians to wear protective clothing, shoes, gloves and headgear to safeguard their bodies from mechanical injuries.
Reputable auto body and glass repair shop owners and managers understand the potential workplace risks posed to their technicians and have implemented health and safety precautions to protect them. They’ve put in place safeguards, whether OSHA-mandated or not, to ensure that their workers enjoy safer, healthier and happier careers while getting your vehicle restored like new again. Lower on-the-job injury rates also lead to higher shop productivity. And from a customer’s perspective, a cleaner and tidier shop just simply looks more professional and efficient.