Safety risks exist in almost all occupations, and both employers and employees must take every available step to prevent workplace injuries. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health prescribes strict safety standards for all industries, one of which is auto body repair and refinishing. Compliance with safety standards might keep you out of the hospital.
However, unanticipated accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. The list of dangers you face each day is almost endless. Potential injuries range from minor to life-changing and even deadly.
Along with amputation risks that working machine parts pose and respiratory problems or burn injury risks while you work with hazardous chemicals, any of the following hazards can cause injuries that could jeopardize your ability to earn an income and care for your family:
- Mechanical injuries: Without the necessary protective equipment, you can suffer cuts, burns, lacerations and bruises, and in severe cases, your injuries could include crushed hands or severed fingers. Gears, sprockets, and other mechanical parts in compressors, winches, sprayers, pulling chains and other equipment pose these risks.
- Asbestos exposure: According to an OSHA safety advisory, clutches and brakes may contain asbestos, which is a dangerous chemical that poses lung cancer hazards.
- Chemical exposure: Chemical fumes from primers, paints, fillers and polishes, along with airborne dust particles, can damage your skin and eyes. Without respiratory protection, you could also suffer damage to your respiratory tract and lungs.
- Occupational noise exposure: Continuous exposure to excessive noise -- above 100 decibels -- can cause permanent hearing loss. You might not notice the gradual deterioration until it is too late, so it is sensible to wear earplugs or muffs in the workshop.
- Heavy lifting: Take care when lifting heavy loads that can cause muscle sprains, strains, torn ligaments, back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders that could have long-term consequences. Ask for a co-worker's help or use mechanical assistance like a forklift or a dolly to move heavy loads.
- Repetitive motion disorders: Repetitive motions throughout your shifts place excessive physical stress on specific body parts. The results could include carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, bursitis and tendonitis, all of which can cause long-term pain and discomfort.
- Slips and trips: Due to the presence of liquids like grease, oil, and paint on the floors of auto body shops, you will always be at risk of slips and falls. Randomly placed parts and electrical cords snaking across the floor can cause trip-and-fall accidents, posing serious risks of fractures, sprains, strains, and even traumatic brain injuries.
How will you deal with injuries?
Very few auto body shop workers manage to escape injuries altogether, despite the precautions they take. If you have to deal with work-related injuries, you will likely want to recover and get back to work as quickly as possible.
The most sensible step to take would be to utilize the skills of a California workers' compensation attorney who has extensive experience in dealing with the state-regulated insurance program. Legal counsel can navigate the benefits claims process on your behalf to obtain compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and any other benefits allowed under applicable laws.