The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates work environments with the goal of protecting workers from serious injury or death. Automotive shops contain various chemicals, machines and flammable materials that could injure workers if the shop is mismanaged. Volatile organic compounds, paint, silica from sandblasting, fumes from metal welding and ergonomic issues caused by lifts and noises can cause health problems. Automotive shops can self-regulate using a checklist.
Store flammable and hazardous materials in a container approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Alternatively, the materials can be listed and labeled by the National Registration and Testing Laboratory. Label both the contents and the particular hazard on the container in bold. The lids must be tight. Place batteries on a single layer of pallets or shelves with an impenetrable base so spilled liquids can't pass through.
Storage and Disposal
Always recycle batteries, and cover tires stored outside. Use separate containers to keep waste fluid drained from vehicles, such as oil and antifreeze. Either have a licensed transporter remove leftover oil, or burn the oil in an approved heater at your automotive shop. Puncture oil filters, and hot drain them over the waste oil drum before recycling or disposal. Place oily rags in sealed and labeled metal containers. States have individual regulations regarding the disposal of oily absorbents. Mechanics must keep any container of solvent parts cleaner closed at all times. Always dispose of solvents as hazardous wastes.
The local fire department must inspect the site and give permission for the auto body shop to perform any cutting or welding. When welding, all employees must wear protective clothing and helmets with shields. They must work in a well-ventilated area. The power source for the machinery must always be grounded. Keep flammable materials away from welding areas. When using brazing to repair the radiator, control and monitor for lead.
Employees must wear safety glasses with side shields when performing brake repairs. The grinding drums and turning rotors must always be bolted to the floor. The pulleys attached to the grinder must always have a safety guard. To prevent asbestos exposure, the grinding system must always use a high efficiency particulate air-filtered vacuum system, called HEPA.
Inform workers about the hazards they face when working in the automotive shop. Harmful chemical compounds often found in automotive shops include isocyantes, methylene chloride, toluene and xylene. Automotive shops must provide workers with training in waste management, respiratory protection, protective equipment, flammable liquids and emergency response. The Department of Toxic Substances Control regulates the waste management training requirements.