Whether you realize it or not, your health is very likely at risk if you work in the automotive industry. Day in and day out you are exposed to harsh and dangerous chemicals, oils, and solvents. Many times, switching career paths might not be an option, so it is absolutely essential that you find ways to protect yourself from the potentially fatal hazards you encounter.
There are many different types of chemicals used in the automotive industry. One in particular, called benzene, can ultimately cause leukemia to develop if you are not cautious to protect yourself. That chemical, benzene, is often found in products that have a petroleum-base. While this chemical can cause a long term danger of leukemia, its short term symptoms are similar to other chemicals used in auto shops. Be sure to keep an eye out for symptoms like drowsiness, unconsciousness, or dizziness.
Another common chemical used in many auto shops are isocyanates, which are found in auto paints. Typically, employees are aware of the respiratory risks that come with handling this chemical, however they may not be aware of the risks that could come from skin exposure. If skin comes in contact with auto paints for extended working periods, employees could experience dermatitis, hives, swelling, and chemical bronchitis. It is important to note that disposable latex gloves to not do the job of protecting wearers from isocyanates found in paint. The chemical soaks right through latex, leaving employees unprotected.
The hazards are not limited just to physical damages. Stories have been reported where employees from auto mechanic shops developed permanent neuro-affective disorder where they experienced drastic personality shifts.
How to Protect Mechanics
With these high risk hazards, it is so important that managers and shop owners in the automotive industry are vigilant in providing the proper procedures for protecting their employees. Be sure that the work space is very well ventilated, so that chemical fumes are not trapped in the same area as workers for extended periods of time. Respirators are also a key piece of protection to have available for workers.
As mentioned before, disposable latex gloves are a very poor choice for use in the automotive industry. A better option would be disposable nitrile gloves. These gloves are made from petroleum-based synthetic rubber, which is the best match for standing up to the petroleum-based chemicals found in auto shops. Nitrile gloves still offer the fit and comfort that wearers are looking for, but they also do their job of protecting mechanics. It is also beneficial to choose nitrile gloves that have textured palms and/or fingers which enhance grip, particularly helpful when working in oily and greasy conditions.