Auto mechanics are routinely in charge of fixing engines, radiators, transmissions, and other issues involving motor vehicles. Unless you are one or know a person who is, you might not realize all the health hazards associated with the job.
What kinds of health hazards does an auto mechanic encounter?
The type of exposure an auto mechanic will endure each day will depend on the type of body shop they work at.
However, below are a few examples of certain health hazards many are frequently exposed to.
- Dangerous fluids: Mechanics frequently work with hydraulic fluid, battery acid, and coolant which can and do cause skin rashes and burns.
- Asbestos exposure: Auto parts, especially brakes in older vehicles, often contain asbestos (a mineral known to cause significant health problems). Frequent proximity to asbestos, particularly over long periods of time, has been shown to lead to mesothelioma and cancer.
- Gasoline and degreasers: Both are known to contain ingredients with carcinogenic factors. As such, mechanics who are frequently exposed are at an increased risk of developing cancer.
- Loud noise: Although noise doesn’t cause cancer, prolonged exposure to extremely loud noises can and does contribute to hearing loss. Mechanics are often exposed to revving engines and machinery that exceed 190 decibels. (Sounds that exceed only 85 decibels are affect a person’s hearing.)
- Tools: Auto mechanics work with hazardous tools that are sharp and powerful. When an accident occurs, many cause lacerations and, in some cases, amputation or deformations.
Mechanics who sustain illness or injury have options
If a mechanic gets hurt or suffers from an illness due to harmful exposure from chemicals or substances, they may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. By filing a workers’ compensation claim for a work-related illness or injury, a mechanic can recover medical expenses for doctor visits and surgical procedures. They can also recover lost wages for time spend off work recovering.
However, many may be hesitant to initiate a claim, whether due to fear of getting fired, fear that they may not be sufficiently injured to file a claim, or some other reason.
But mechanics have rights under the law and shouldn’t hesitate to assert them. Those who need support about their claims should reach out to a professional familiar with helping workers. A lawyer can advocate for your interests, help you with the process, and ease common concerns.