Five health hazards of working with automobiles

Do you want to know the health risks associated with a career as an auto

Do you want to know the health risks associated with a career as an auto mechanic, inspector, or technician?

The following are five hazards associated with working with cars, although these are only a few examples.  

Electrical injury

One danger auto mechanics are exposed to comes from contact with an exposed electrical circuit.  Depending on the circumstances, this can result in burns, electric shocks, or death by electrocution.  When a worker comes into contact with a current, it can cause muscle spasms, lung collapse, and damage to the eyes and ears.  Because of this, technicians must be careful when working with electrical components.  

Compressed air

Compressed air is often used in the auto industry, but it can cause injury if not used properly.  

When compressed air is shot at a surface to clean it, it can dislodge particles that can enter the eye, nose, or ear at high speeds, causing injury.  These airborne particles can also cause a respiratory hazard.  In rare cases, a small quantity of compressed air can enter the blood, causing an embolism.  

Workers must take care to avoid health risks of compressed air by using safety equipment to protect their faces and by using air guns properly.  

Exposure to chemicals

Working in a car garage can expose workers to a variety of chemicals that can be dangerous to their health.  Mechanics work with materials from brake fluids to benzene to solvents.  

A study from Ethiopia found that garage workers had high levels of lead and other toxins in their blood.  Wastewater from garages was often polluted with lead and cadmium.  Because of their exposure to harmful chemicals, garage workers had increased blood pressure and white blood cell count and a decrease in their number of red blood cells.  

Though these data are from a country where industry is much less regulated than in the developed world, chemical exposure can still pose a risk to auto workers in the developed world, because accidents can still happen despite safety protocols.  

Asbestos and mesothelioma

Clutches, brakes, and other parts in older vehicles contain asbestos, which can break down over time.  While working with these parts, mechanics can inhale small pieces of asbestos, which can cause a rare but fatal cancer, mesothelioma.  

Information about asbestos exposure risks and health consequences can be found at

Asbestos is no longer used in car parts, but it still poses a risk to mechanics who repair older cars.  Studies have shown that one in 10 auto mechanics is at risk of mesothelioma and dust in garages contains up to 64 percent asbestos.  According to the EPA, workers should wear full protective suits and masks in environments with more than 1% asbestos.  

Trips and Falls

More than 42,000 workers get injured in Canada each year by falling from a height,  slipping on a wet or dirty surface, or tripping over an object.  Autoworkers are no exception.  

To prevent injury, employees must be alert and keep their workplaces clean and organized.