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It is no secret that working as a mechanic is a difficult occupation that requires strenuous labor. Doing repairs on heavy vehicles and putting constant strain on their muscles and back are all things that workers face every day. However, there are some less obvious health risks associated with this type of job.
Exposure to Carbon Monoxide
Running vehicles produce a gas called carbon monoxide, and in shops that are not well-ventilated, this can prove deadly to mechanics. Furthermore, the gas is both odorless and tasteless, and toxic levels of it may be impossible to detect until workers are already presenting with physical symptoms.
Those who work in body shops or are more at risk for eye injuries because they work with many small, metal parts. Parts may fly off and unexpectedly become lodged in a worker's eye if they are not wearing safety glasses. Bench grinders are well- known for launching pieces of metal with some regularity. Approximately 7% of all workplace hazards to mechanics are eye injuries.
Regular exposure to loud noises, especially in enclosed spaces such as a repair shop, can cause devastating effects to hearing function. Hearing loss due to car horns, power tools, grinders, and other equipment is sometimes irreversible. Like damage to vision, hearing loss does, in some cases, get worse over time. Experts say that noise levels over 90 decibels is harmful to the ears and should be avoided by wearing proper hearing protection.
Mechanics often risk exposure to asbestos in the workplace. When replacing the clutch or break, sanding and grinding occurs and sometimes creates asbestos dust, which is extremely difficult to avoid breathing. There are many dangers related to being exposed to asbestos for long periods of time, and doing so can cause life-threatening pulmonary diseases and even a deadly type of cancer called mesothelioma.
Exposure to Chemicals
There are a variety of volatile chemicals in repair shops that cause injuries to the mechanics working in them. Regular exposure to degreasers, solvents, and oil can cause skin burns, irritation to the lining of the lungs, and eye damage. A skin condition called hand dermatitis is commonly found in patients who work in auto body shops and is the result of regular exposure to various chemicals.
While these problems have the potential to be quite serious, the likelihood of them occurring can be drastically decreased by using proper safety gear and adhering to all health and safety regulations.