The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health holds employers responsible for the safety of employees. Auto body workers may not even be aware of all the risks of injury and illness that they face. Employers are required to explain the risks and teach workers how to mitigate the hazards.
Employers must provide safety training and ensure workers are adequately trained for their jobs, whether it’s welding, grinding, sanding or working with hazardous chemicals. All these activities pose risks of eye injuries. Employers must provide safety goggles, eyeglasses or shields to keep the eyes of workers safe from flying sparks, splashes and particles. They also have to enforce the proper use of personal protective equipment.
Other hazards to mitigate
The dust created during sanding and grinding sheet metal to remove old paint contains chemical particles. Workers busy with these tasks also risk inhalation of toxic metals like chromium, cadmium and lead. Using vacuum-equipped sanders and grinders in well-ventilated work areas could mitigate these hazards. Adding a respirator or dust mask can protect the worker’s lungs.
Welding poses fire and burn hazards. Working in areas designated or shielded for welding could prevent exposing other workers. Those who do the welding must wear personal protective equipment, including face shields, hoods, gloves and aprons. It’s also important to keep the welding area free of rags, paper and flammable liquids.
Cleaners used for surface preparation, putties and fillers contain hazardous chemicals. Well-ventilated areas are essential, and long sleeves and gloves help to prevent skin contact. Furthermore, repairing collision damage typically involves the use of blades, knives and other sharp-edged items. Protective gloves can help to prevent injuries caused by sheet metal, blades and glass.
Taxing the body with excessive force, overreaching and twisting can cause long-term problems. Repetitive movements and a lack of breaks could also cause injuries, and rotating tasks throughout the day is a good way to prevent musculoskeletal damage.
California workers who have to deal with the consequences of auto body work injuries would likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Getting claims filed within time limits could provide compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages.