Staying Safe and Healthy in the Auto Shop

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Automobiles are big and heavy with lots of mechanical moving parts. In the right environment a vehicle can normally be maintained and repaired safely and effectively. However, in the wrong environment, repairing a vehicle has the potential to be dangerous. If you’re taking mechanic courses in Toronto or if you’re simply interested in automotive careers in Toronto, here are a few tips to stay safe and healthy in the auto shop.

Basic rules

A few rules of thumb to observe:

  • Never work alone
  • Wear eye protection, such as safety goggles
  • Stay clear of moving parts of a running vehicle
  • Be aware of hazardous chemicals, and make sure there’s a flushing station nearby for eyes and skin
  • Avoid loose clothing or hair
  • Make sure to keep clean up materials nearby in case of an accidental spill
  • Never go under a vehicle that is elevated improperly
  • Know where the fire extinguisher is and have a planned exit route
  • Keep an emergency response number handy and posted clearly where others can see it

Proper clothing and hazardous chemicals

Don’t wear ties or any loose clothing. Don’t let pony tails down or try to bundle your hair up if it’s long. Don’t wear necklaces, rings or other jewelry. Ideally the best clothing for performing automotive maintenance and repairs is a mechanic’s jumpsuit. It’s durable, comfortable, there are pockets for tools, and there is nothing loose that can get caught and pulled into moving parts.

Vehicle repair involves the use of many types of fluids, which can splatter. Eye contact should be avoided, which is why you should always wear safety goggles for eye protection. Some car fluids can be acidic, such as battery fluid. Other hazardous chemicals include gasoline, oil, coolant and other vehicle fluids. If you ever start to feel a sensation of burning or discomfort, flush with cool water for several minutes. If burning continues, seek medical attention.

Lastly, try to avoid clutter in your workspace that can act as fall hazards. Make sure to keep storage and non-automotive tools in other areas. Moreover, make sure to clean up tools after you’re finished.

Lifting points

A motor vehicle is (often) a 4,000+ pound piece of machinery that could fall on top of you. Never go under a vehicle that is not elevated properly. Proper lifting points are slightly different on every vehicle, which is something you’ll learn as part of your automotive training in Toronto. The owner’s manual can specify where the lifting points are for a specific vehicle. Often vehicles have lift points marked on the running board or rocker panel. Some disastrous events can occur if you attempt to raise a vehicle without using the proper lifting points. The weight of the car pressing down and the jack pressing up can damage the body of the vehicle. Or, even worse, the jack could tip or slide while a person is underneath the vehicle.

In case of an emergency, adequate preparation and a quick response can save a life. Although it’s relatively rare, a fire can occur when working on motor vehicles. Some vehicle fluids are flammable, so they can combust with excess heat or when a faulty electrical wire creates a spark. Keep a working fire extinguisher in an accessible place. All shop workers should know where the fire extinguisher is located. Most people in automotive careers will never experience any safety or health issues on the job but remember that taking the appropriate precautions are always worth your time.

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