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By: Pat Austin, Loss Prevention Representative and Environmental Representative

Here are some headlines from around the nation concerning auto technician workplace safety:

“Man Dies After Freak Accident at Boston Auto Shop”

“Freak accident at auto shop”

“Man found dead, pinned under car at auto repair shop”

When working as a technician, the number of cars that pass through your shop bay doors every day makes it easy for you to forget that cars are big, dangerous objects, even when stationary.  As with any profession you may find yourself overlooking some of the most basic steps to protect yourself and your co-workers. 

Listed below are some basic Do’s and Do Not’s for every auto technician:

  • Don’t smoke while you’re working on a vehicle
  • Never work on a vehicle unless the parking brake is on, the gearshift is in Park or Neutral, and the engine is shut off (unless it has to be running for you to do the work.)
  • Be sure the parts of the engine you are working on are NOT hot.
  • Never jack up a car unless the wheels are properly blocked.
  • Use insulated tools for electrical work.
  • Before using a wrench or ratchet on a part that seems to be stuck, make sure that if it suddenly comes loose, your hand won’t hit anything. 
  • Before working on a car, take off your rings, long necklaces, other jewelry, and tie back your hair.
  • If you’re using chemicals such as coolant, cleaners, etc. keep them away from your mouth and eyes, and wash your hands thoroughly after using them.
  • Know that gasoline and other chemicals are dangerous.  Not only are they toxic and flammable, but the vapors are equally as dangerous. 
  • Work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy.
  • Wear protective gear at all times, as appropriate for the repair. Goggles, gloves, and ear protection should be worn when making certain types of repairs.
  • Never work underneath a vehicle unless it has been properly supported. Raising the vehicle off the ground to access the underside requires verifying it is stable, and that there is no risk of the vehicle falling on top of the mechanic.
  • Always disconnect the battery when working on electrical systems and near/around electrical wiring. Even when the vehicle is off, there is still the potential for current to pass through electrical wiring.
  • Always remove the keys from the ignition switch. Never leave the key in the ignition switch, as the key can draw an electrical charge from the battery. Also, avoid unplugging fuses and wiring harnesses while the key is in the “on” position. Otherwise, there is a risk of electrical shock, and/or electrical spikes that may damage electronic parts and wiring.
  • Do NOT allow customers on the shop floor.

The NHADA Loss Prevention Staff is committed to helping your facility prevent injuries and comply with governmental safety regulations.  Please feel free to contact me to request a safety visit, safety training, forms/labels, glasses, etc.  at paustin@nhada.com or (800)852-3372.


Pat Austin, Loss Prevention Representative and Environmental Representative


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