Prevention Equipment for Body Shops

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The use of a full suit, as proposed by SATA, allows the painter to breathe fresh and purified air. Photo SATA

There are still too many safety deficiencies when solutions exist to protect the health of workers in our body shops.

Rémi Michaud, Operations Specialist for the CARSTAR network, is constantly visiting shops as part of his duties and is on the front lines to see how the health of body shop workers is at risk. “It’s an area that is still too often overlooked by shop managers,” he says. “We’re putting the health of workers at risk, which we know is rare and valuable. There are many risk areas and the investment in safety equipment pays off. We also need to make good safety practices an integral part of the production process. In short, even though they may be resistant at times, technicians must use the equipment that is available to them.”

Focus on the paint room

Michaud points out, for example, that the paint room remains the riskiest area, especially with the various fumes that can attack the respiratory system. According to him, a full face mask supplying the painter with fresh, filtered air from outside is the right solution. He also recommends covering the entire body with a suit that will protect the skin from picking up these contaminants.

Hands should also be protected by gloves when handling the paint during mixing or when cleaning the gun with solvents.

To control air quality at the source, our specialists see the adoption of fixed or mobile dust extraction systems as a good idea. Photo Mirka

The surface preparation area of the parts is also a source of dust that can affect the respiratory system. Wearing an N95 mask will remedy the situation. Obviously, Michaud and the other specialists consulted for this article are pleased with the increased use of dust-free blasting systems in body shops, which greatly contribute to cleaner air.

For welding operations, eyes must obviously be protected by a helmet with a suitable visor, while fume extraction at the source is the recommended solution for fume control.

“It’s incredible to see shops with high-tech equipment that skimp on the safety aspect,” laments Christian St-Arnaud, Sales Representative at Entrepôts AB. “I would say that a quarter of the shops demonstrate good practices in this area, it’s not nearly enough.”

Dust management

In addition to the paint room, he sees the preparation area as another area of high health risk. “The preparation space is not a fixed area,” he notes. “You have to consider mobile dust extraction equipment, which will follow the worker.”

For Jason Couillard, Business Development Specialist at SATA, the COVID-19 pandemic with the impact it had on the workforce helped raise awareness among shop managers about the importance of taking care of their workers.

“We are seeing an increase in sales of safety equipment,” says the expert. “The next important thing is to make sure they are used correctly. Using a breathing system with a hood that draws purified air from the outside requires a period of adaptation on the part of the technician. However, with time, the painter will feel confident and appreciated by his employer who is investing in his health.”

Alain Laplante and Christian Roy of NAPA/CMAX mention that the human body, when exposed to contaminants, behaves like a sponge. They emphasize the importance of protecting auto body workers. “We have to keep up with new technologies. Drying parts with UV, for example, requires specific eye protection. Excessive noise, which can damage hearing in the long run, should not be overlooked either. One thing is certain, the use of safety equipment should not be negotiable, they say. It should be an integral part of the automotive repair process.”

Safety equipment suppliers, in this case a 3M self-contained breathing solution, know the importance of providing all the necessary protection for workers’ health. Photo 3M

What our experts agree on is that the solutions exist and are easily accessible. A supplier like 3M, for example, offers the entire range of safety equipment for body shops in the catalog offered to its distributors. As the information shared by this company states, “Protecting your employees is protecting your business. A downtime worker will affect the productivity and profitability of your business.”

Masks, self-contained or fresh air respirators, hearing or vision protectors, full protective suits and even maintenance programs for the various filters on this equipment are readily available. “Unfortunately, even the most well-intentioned entrepreneurs are misinformed,” says Alain Laplante of NAPA/CMAX.


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