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Auto Shops

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The goal of the Safe Shops Program is to protect workers and the public from exposure to hazardous chemicals and air pollution in auto shops. Auto shop workers are exposed to an array of potentially hazardous chemicals during nearly every service they provide. Safe Shops works to prevent or reduce disproportionate environmental and occupational health effects from the industry on workers and clients, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods.

The Safe Shops Program offers free trainings and technical assistance at auto shops during a time that is convenient to you. Our staff can help you find solutions to problems, such as improving ventilation and the proper use of personal protective equipment, and can help answer questions about regulations and your health. Please call the Environmental Health Office at 617-534-5965 to learn more about the Safe Shops Program or request a training.

Auto Shop Hazards

Auto shop work poses a number of potential health hazards for both individual workers and for the environment.

Mechanical Repair Shop Hazards Body and Paint Shop Hazards
Workers not using proper personal protective equipment (masks for working with solvents, etc.) Workers not using proper personal protective equipment (masks for working with paint, etc.)

Improper storage of flammable materials

Improper storage of flammable materials
Workers not adequately trained/informed – no knowledge of MSDS, safety plan, etc. Workers not adequately trained/informed – no knowledge of MSDS, safety plan, etc.

Parts cleaning in

uncovered solvent systems

Cleaning of paint guns releasing large amounts of solvent into the air
Improper and "off label" use of spray organic solvents Spray painting outside of an enclosed spray booth
Improper storage of auto batteries, scrap metal, and spare parts Heavy metals and vapors exposures from body work and cutting/welding
Improper labeling, storage, and disposal of hazardous wastes Sanding and body work being done without dust capture devices or respiratory protection

 

These hazards may affect the health of both workers and the environment.

  • Workers are exposed to chemicals through inhalation (breathing), skin absorption, injection, and consumption. In the short term, those working with chemicals may experience eye, skin, and throat irritation, dizziness, nausea, confusion, headache, and drowsiness. In the long term, workers may experience asbestosis, lung cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, lung damage, and heart disease.
  • Auto body and repair shops produce hazardous waste, store flammable and hazardous materials, and release organic solvents and VOCs as regular business practice.  Because of a lack of zoning laws, auto shops are located in residential areas, next to schools and playgrounds.  They are commonly transient businesses, making them sometimes hard to locate and regulate. These businesses may pollute our water and air, and contribute to global warming, without the proper precautions.

There are a number of steps that workers may take to protect themselves from these short and long term health effects. They can wear personal protective equipment, replace unsafe chemical products with safer ones, increase shop ventilation, and use machines that make their work safer. Workers can also diminish environmental health effects through proper containment of liquid- and air-based pollutants.

The Safe Shops Program aims to mitigate environmental and occupational health effects through outreach and the provision of resources for these businesses. To learn more about the auto shop resources we provide, click here.

If you would like to learn more about the Safe Shops Program, or if you own a nail salon or auto shop and would like to request a training from one of our outreach workers, please explore the tabs at the right of this page or contact the Environmental Health Office at 617-534-5965. Training is available in Vietnamese, Spanish, and English. ​

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Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: info@bphc.org