Every industry has its unique risks and health hazards based on the tools used and the tasks people are expected to do regularly. This is why you may be able to tell what someone does for a living based on their calluses or the type of injury they arrive with in the emergency room. Here are the types of injuries in the auto body shop industry.
Strains and Sprains
Lifting tires and pulling on automotive lifts leads to strains and sprains. And auto body workers tend to try to do it by hand instead of breaking out the lift. That’s why a third of auto body shops are strains and sprains. This includes everything from sprained wrists to back pain. This category also includes repetitive stress injuries, except they’re in the arms, back and neck instead of one’s wrists as you’d find with office workers. It can even contribute to hernias. This type of injury is also the kind of workplace injury most likely to result in lost or restricted workdays.
One solution is to implement a stretch and flex program. Another is providing lifts and requiring people to use them to lift and lower machinery and tools rather than assuming they can do it if they just put their back into it.
Auto body work is unusual for putting you in close contact with sharp metal, whether you’re repairing a crunched bumper or cutting metal panels so you can weld in a patch. You can be cut by the saws, sanders and other tools used in the auto body shop, too. That’s why lacerations are the second most common injury in auto body shops. You can try to install guards on machinery and require everyone to wear protective gloves at all times.
Chemical burns are a serious hazard in the auto body industry. These chemical burns could come from anything from antiknock agents to gasoline. That’s on top of the literal burn hazard posed by any welding equipment in the area.
Note that you need to take steps to protect your staff’s lungs from the same chemicals that can cause chemical burns. Solutions for problem this range from using respirators to improving ventilation in the shop. Clean things up, so that old asbestos and lead dust cannot possibly accumulate in a corner of the shop until someone gets a lungful of it. Solvent and diesel fumes can make you sick long before they burn your eyes or skin. You want to ensure that chemicals like solvents are stored in air-tight containers in fire-proof cabinets. Otherwise, someone might hire a workers compensation lawyer to get compensation for their lung damage.
Eye injuries are unusually common for people working on vehicles, especially when you’re underneath the car. Oil and other fluids may drip into your eye. Pneumatic lines can blow air or debris into someone’s face, and people working in auto shops are less likely to be wearing eye protection than someone standing in front of a drill press. Someone could drop a tool on your face, too. The solution is to require everyone to wear goggles all the time.