Is Being an Auto Mechanic Dangerous

When people are exploring available options of employment they should examine both the short and long-term risks associated with the job. And when it comes to careers in the skilled trades category this research becomes even more important. I’m often asked if being an auto mechanic is dangerous. The short answer is yes. Here we’ll discuss the longer answer, which is yes, but the risks can be mitigated and a career as an auto mechanic can be extremely rewarding.

Mechanics Work with Hazardous Materials

Although car mechanics are surrounded by extremely hazardous materials there are rules and regulations. That help protect people working around these kinds of products. The government formed a division called the occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) in 1970. In 1983 this arm of the government issued the right to know act. In short, this requires employers to provide their employees with safe working conditions.The law makes it an employer’s responsibility to notify workers about the dangers of specific chemical hazards in their workplace. Each individual chemical must have a fact sheet. That must be easily available to the employee describing the chemical, the dangers associated with it and best practices for handling. The information is provided in partnership with the chemical company that manufactures the substance. The document itself is known as a material safety data sheet (MSDS).

Information in the MSDS

Auto mechanics looking to avoid the risks of using dangerous and corrosive chemicals can quickly gain a complete education about the hazardous material from the data sheet.

These documents are often brief yet provide extremely useful information such as:

  • all of the ingredients;
  • recommended auto repair safety equipment;
  • the stability or flashpoint, associated health risks;
  • medical symptoms of over exposure;
  • first aid procedures.

When employees become familiar with the dangers and proficient at protecting themselves the risk of injury is greatly reduced.

Long Term Physical Toll on Mechanics

As far as the physical damage that accrues over time, being an auto mechanic is probably on par with other skilled trades such as construction or factory workers. Although I have met a few technicians that lost fingers or toes on the job. I have met far more with long-term back and knee problems. Perching over an engine compartment, reaching your arms straight out to lift heavy engine components like cylinder heads is not an ideal position for the human body. Wearing back protection before you have issues is sound advice. Leaning over a fender isn’t fun but after twenty years of doing so it can become painful.

Personally, I have learned that if you vary the bodies position by either raising the vehicle or utilizing a mechanics fender ladder this can help avoid the pain and suffering associated with repetitive stress disorder. Automotive technicians often find themselves kneeling on the ground to look under the vehicle, set up the lift, and adjust tire pressures or other ground-based procedures. Having a good quality kneeling pad can help your knees last a lot longer.

If you ask me, being a mechanic is dangerous but it’s far safer than a career as a fireman or a police officer. For those considering a position in any skilled trade it’s a good idea to learn about the hazards of that industry. As for danger to compensation ratio auto mechanics aren’t getting rich but the skills can provide a lot of value later in life. Learning to work with your hands can be a worthwhile endeavor. Even more important are the problem solving skills obtained from diagnosis and repairing complex automotive systems.

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