HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR

Industrial Protection and PPE for Mechanics

Mechanics and professionals in the automotive industry work hard everyday to ensure that our vehicles perform at their best, work safely and look good. Keeping our vehicles in good condition is key to safety and to achieve it, workers in the industry face a multitude of risks on a daily basis.

Working in the motor vehicle repair industry varies depending on the type of garage and the company, activities can include car servicing, maintenance services like fixing, fitting and replacing parts or tyres, restorations, alterations, bodywork, electronic work and paintwork, etc.

This article will focus on health and safety for mechanics and automotive workers in large car servicing and repairs companies, small independent or family-run garages, official dealers and partners, etc. The information can be applied to any industry or field that involves similar mechanical maintenance work.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Risks in the car repair and maintenance industry

Handling harmful or hazardous substances, constant noise exposure and the risk of getting cut or struck by an object are just some of the potential risks and accidents that can happen. Accidents can cause immediate or progressive damage over time.

Risks due to chemical agents and harmful substances

This type of risk mainly affects the respiratory tract, eyes and skin when working with car fumes, fuels, oils, paints and chemicals.

During painting, sanding and grinding processes, a large number of harmful particles are projected into the air, when they are inhaled over a long period of time, these particles can cause very serious consequences such as breathing problems or even lung cancer.

In addition, frequent and prolonged contact with used engine oil can lead to dermatitis and other skin disorders.

Physical risks

  • Falls at the same level or from a height due to slipping or tripping over tools, parts, or on liquids, etc.
  • Cuts, scratches or impact injuries from materials, tools, parts and machinery.
  • Crushing and trapping hazards from falling objects and the collapse of vehicles due to lift failure.
  • Injuries due to electrical contact or burns from welding or blowtorches.
  • Hearing damage due to constant exposure to noise.
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Ergonomic risks

Overexertion, back injuries and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) caused by moving heavy equipment or machinery, repetitive movements or poor posture. Poor lighting and extreme temperatures should also be taken into account.

Other risks

Exposure to radiation as well as fire or explosions, which can cause anything from superficial injuries to death. Fires can be started from contact between a simple spark and a flammable substance or compressed air from tyres.

Industrial safety equipment and PPE for mechanics and vehicle repair workshops

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Work gloves

In the car maintenance and repair industry, workers hands are exposed to numerous hazards. There are many types of gloves available and the level of protection they provide depends on their design and the materials they are made of.

To be considered a protective glove, all gloves must comply with standard EN 420. Depending on what activity they will be used for, they can also provide:

  • Mechanical resistance (EN 388): Protection against cuts, abrasions, tears and punctures due to handling sharp objects and parts.
  • Chemical protection (EN 374): Protection against contact with harmful products such as solvents, paints, oils, battery acid or petrol which may cause skin diseases.
  • Electrical insulation or thermal protection (EN 60903 and EN 407): In case of risk of contact with electric current or heat and flames.
  • Welding protection (EN 12477): Suitable for all types of welding, MIG, TIG or arc welding.

Work gloves can be reusable or disposable, as is the case with our nitrile gloves. They can be used alone or over mechanical gloves for increased cleanliness and hygiene.

It’s not all about protection though, work gloves should also be comfortable, breathable and have a good grip to minimise fatigue. Pay attention to sensitivity and dexterity which is vital for handling small components with precision.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Safety Footwear

The risk of falling in motor vehicle workshops is high. Slips, trips and falls are usually due to lack of cleanliness, clutter, spilt liquids or irregularities and defects in the floor.

Apart from good housekeeping, SRC, SRB or SRA slip resistant safety footwear is essential. In addition to being slip resistant, they should also have the following characteristics:

  • Safety toe cap with 200J resistance for protection against falling objects or machinery.
  • Penetration resistant sole or midsole to reduce the risks from stepping on sharp objects such as glass or nails.
  • ESD properties - ESD safety shoes help dissipate electrostatic discharges. If there is a risk of contact with electric current, the footwear should be completely electrically insulated. Safety footwear that is resistant to water, chemicals, oils and abrasive products is highly recommendable.
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Hearing Protection

Did you know that hearing protection is legally required when noise exposure reaches 85 dB or higher?

Certain activities like spot welding or using powered or bench grinders generate a lot of noise.

Frequent and prolonged exposure can cause irreversible damage to the auditory system. There are two main types of ear protection, each with different levels of protection:

It’s important to choose the right level of hearing protection because overprotection can impair communication between workers and even prevent the user from hearing crucial sounds around them like warning alarms.

Respiratory Protection

Did you know that the spray painting process causes exposure to toxic solvent vapours and pigment particles that can cause respiratory problems?

In addition, exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, a colourless, odourless gas that in unventilated environments becomes a highly toxic gas.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

The most common types of respiratory protective equipment (RPE):

  • Particulate face masks and dust masks- they can be reusable or disposable and come with or without an exhalation valve. There are three levels of protection: FFP1, FFP1 or FFP3 (according to EN 149:2001+A1:2009).

  • Half face or full face respirator masks with filters - Either with built-in (maintenance-free) filters or attachable filters. Depending on the filter (P1, P2 and P3), they can offer protection against different types of harmful gases, vapours and particles.

All RPE should be designed for comfortable use with other types of PPE.

Eye Protection

Eye protection is vital for mechanics and automotive professionals due to the extent of potential eye hazards such as chemical risks, dust, smoke, projected particles and even splashes of molten metal.

All professionals in the motor vehicle repair industry should wear eye protection. Safety sunglasses are also advisable to protect the user from UV rays when working outdoors.

There are various different types of eye protection depending on how much of the eyes and face need protecting and the potential risks (Standard EN 166):

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Safety glasses

They provide greater ventilation and comfort in terms of weight and wearability. Available with adjustable arms and temples to reduce pressure on the head and face.

Safety goggles

Offers greater protection, better all-around vision and adjustability. Some models are also compatible with prescription glasses.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Safety over-glasses

A comfortable and cost-efficient way to protect both the eyes and prescription glasses at the same time.

Welding goggles and helmets

Protection against optical radiation and welding hazards of all kinds.

Retractable barriers and temporary signage

Industrial safety solutions like retractable belt barriers are perfect for cordoning off hazardous work areas, they can be used permanently or temporarily.

Typically used near machinery, moving vehicles or in dangerous zones where there is a risk of trapping, impacts from stationary or moving objects or the risk of being run over. In a garage, they can also be used to mark areas where liquids such as oil or petrol spills occur to prevent slips, trips and falls.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Surface and structural protection

In a vehicle repair and maintenance workshop, there is a high risk of collisions which means protecting structures, vehicles, equipment and surfaces against damage from impacts, knocks and scratches is very important.

Protection should always be high quality and meet the minimum requirements for safety and durability.

Surface and corner protectors like those made of polyurethane foam are quick and easy to apply. They can be cut to size which makes them highly versatile. Many models are made with strong adhesive tape and they can be fixed to any type of surface without leaving a residue.

This type of protection is ideal for marking protrusions, changes in height or machinery. They can also be used on shelving, doors, walls, parking columns and control panels, etc.

A-SAFE structural protection and corner guards – The most innovative protection on the market.

A-SAFE provide superior quality industrial safety solutions such as corner guards, rack-protection, column protectors, low clearance alarm bars, safety bollards, etc. Perfect for whenever there is a risk of high impact.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru

Line marking and hazard tape

Adhesive tapes are the best alternative to paint in terms of installation time, mess, cost and versatility.

In the motor vehicle industry, marking traffic lanes and work areas is essential for an organised and safe environment and it has a huge impact on reducing accidents and optimising workflow.

When a work area is shared between vehicles and workers, the flooring of indoor traffic and pedestrian routes must be clearly marked.

This floor or line marking must be clear and easy to see, it must be a continuous stripe in a highly visible colour, preferably white or yellow. It’s important to remember that the safety distance between vehicles, surrounding objects and pedestrians must always be respected.

In addition, emergency cut-out devices and prohibited areas must be marked with red floor tape.

HEALTH AND SAFETY FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR | Safeguru
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