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Maintain a Safe Environment in Your Automotive Repair Shop

Automotive repair shops can be dangerous places. With plenty of power tools, heavy machinery and chemical substances, there are frequent risks for people who work in places that fix and maintain cars and trucks.

It's important for mechanics to wear the proper attire when working on cars, including work shoes that protect against falling tools, slips and substances. But wearing protective clothing and slip-resistant shoes aren't the only things that mechanics can do to maintain a safe shop. There are a number of precautions that automotive garages can take to protect everyone, ranging from the ingenious to the obvious. But no matter how simple a precaution may seem – like not working on an engine until it's completely cool – forgetting to be cautious can have terrible results. Here are a few of the most important things that mechanics and shop's owners can do to create a safe atmosphere for working on automobiles. 

Use the Right Tools

People may be tempted to opt for a nearby tool that does a similar job when working on a car, but it's always best to use the correct tool for the job. A prime example of the danger is when people don't use insulated tools when working on a car's electrical components. Even when a mechanic is wearing gloves and proper safety gear, it's important to have an extra level of protection that can come from an insulated tool. The rubber coating around a pair of pliers can be the last line of defense that saves someone from a serious injury. 

Lift Equipment by the Book 

Although one of the dangers of an automotive shop is a traumatic injury like a gash or burn, there are also severe orthopedic injuries that can occur. State Auto Insurance Companies published a list of safety rules for automotive repair shops, including directions on how to correctly lift a battery or engine component. If done incorrectly, there are a number of injuries that could occur, including severe damage to the back, not to mention damage to the car itself.

The instructions remind mechanics to firmly plant their feet on the ground and lean on the car as they lift the component. The item should be held close to the chest and people should turn with their feet slowly rather than the waist. When it's lowered, people should use their arms rather than waist to bend down. This can save the back from injury.

Keep a Clean Workspace

Everyday clutter may not be a big problem in your office or home, but in a work space it can spell serious danger. Items not properly organized can lead to tripping and other avoidable injuries. Sometimes simply picking tools and materials up and keeping them organized can be enough to prevent injury.

The second aspect to keeping a clutter-free space comes from properly disposing of potentially dangerous materials. Whether it's correctly labeling and packaging waste or cleaning up after procedures that create dangerous waste like metal shavings, cleanliness is more important in a mechanic's surroundings than many other workspaces. 

The Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association published a checklist that helps repair shops remember what they can do to make dangerous practices safer for their employees. These include storing hazardous chemicals in a single area, using a pan when working on brakes to catch metal filings, using absorption pads to clean up spilled oil and chemicals, and many other helpful things to remember. 

Safety is incredibly important in any area of work, but especially in careers where the surroundings are more dangerous. In addition to wearing safety shoes and glasses, it's smart for mechanics and shop owners to create a safe work environment.