The jobs done by mechanics and automotive technicians in Minnesota pose many safety hazards. It is the responsibility of every workshop owner to protect the health and safety of his or her employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides guidelines and regulations to prevent workplace injuries in every industry. However, it is up to the employer to provide safety training and ensure compliance with safety regulations.
If auto mechanics is your line of work, working with caustic chemicals and heavy equipment will be only some of the safety hazards you will face at work. Your employer may not prioritize employee safety, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
Learn to recognize the hazards
If regular site inspections are not part of the safety protocols at the mechanic shop at which you earn your income, you may be able to avoid having to file workers’ compensation benefits claims by doing your own inspections and taking note of safety hazards before every shift. Looking out for any of the following dangerous situations, and being aware of safe work practices may help you avoid on-the-job accidents:
- Slip-and-fall hazards: Floor care is vital in an auto mechanic shop because maintenance procedures such as changing slippery oil and transmission fluid can cause dangerous, slick areas on the garage floor. Failing to promptly clean these spots can not only cause slip-and-fall injuries but inhaling the chemical vapors can lead to respiratory irritation. You can also prevent trip-and-fall accidents by putting away repair tools and auto parts. Furthermore, safety boots can help prevent falls and protect your feet.
- Personal protective equipment: Gloves are essential to protecting you from heat burns, chemical burns and irritation, cuts by sharp objects, and other dangers. Further protection is necessary for your eyes because without tightly fitting safety goggles they will be exposed to dangerous chemicals and debris from tasks that involve grinding, welding and more.
- Electrical hazards: Electrocution and electrical shock hazards will always be risk factors in auto workshops. The electrical components of vehicles, power tools and even the batteries of the vehicles pose electrical dangers. Furthermore, you must ensure that the power supply is switched off before you repair or clean any equipment.
- Chemical hazards: Never eat in the workshop, as solvents, vehicle fluids, paints and automotive chemicals can contaminate food. Skin contact and inhalation of some chemicals can also be hazardous. Making sure all chemicals are clearly labeled and including relevant information on poison control data sheets is especially important.
- Lifting hazards: Lifting heavy objects is par for the course in your job, and remember that prevention is better than cure. Gain knowledge about proper lifting techniques that can prevent back injuries. Another hazard is the operation of vehicle lifts which can cause crush injuries if not safely used.
- Certification and training: Never agree to do any job or operate equipment for which you have not received training. Specific tasks should only be done by those with the required certification. If your employer does not provide safety training, it might be a good idea to suggest it to help save the company the costs of workplace injuries to mechanics and automotive technicians.
If you happen to be the victim of a workplace accident despite taking all these precautions, your recovery may take some time. Fortunately, the Minnesota workers’ compensation insurance program allows injured workers to file claims for benefits that provide coverage for medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages.