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Characterizing the health and safety needs of the collision repair industry.

Whittaker-SG; Reeb-Whitaker-C
J Occup Environ Hyg 2009 May; 6(5):273-282
Production workers in the collision repair industry are potentially exposed to many harmful chemicals, including isocyanates. Of particular concern is the burden of work-related asthma in this industry that likely reflects exposures to the isocyanates in two-part paints. The main objectives of this study were to gather information about: (i) the collision repair industry business model, (ii) the number of collision repair production workers potentially exposed to isocyanates, (iii) additional chemical and physical exposures of concern, (iv) current health and safety practices in the industry, (v) the health and safety perceptions and needs of business owners and managers, and (vi) strategies to reduce exposure and increase employer and worker awareness. Data were gathered using a combination of key informant interviews, field investigations, and a statewide needs assessment survey. Although a response bias cannot be excluded, the 69% response rate suggests that the survey results are likely representative of Washington State's collision repair industry. Collision repair was determined to be a male-dominated industry chiefly comprising small, nonunionized, family-run businesses. Many shops face numerous safety and health challenges resulting from a combination of misinformation within the industry, insufficient funds to address workplace health and safety concerns, and social barriers to enforcing best practices within the shops. Most notably, inappropriate selection and use of respirators and gloves likely contribute significantly to isocyanate exposures. Collision repair workers are potentially exposed to a variety of additional chemical and physical hazards that deserve attention. This industry requires health and safety intervention of both an educational campaign and technical assistance. Any such intervention must account for the financial, demographic, and social characteristics of this industry.
Automotive-industry; Automobile-repair-shops; Chemical-hypersensitivity; Chemical-properties; Epidemiology; Occupational-exposure; Paints; Personal-protection; Protective-measures; Physical-reactions; Physiological-factors; Physiological-response; Physiology; Repair-shops; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-research; Workers; Worker-health; Work-areas; Work-environment; Work-practices; Worker-health; Workplace-studies; Author Keywords: Gloves; Hexamethylene diisocyanate; Isocyanates; Respiratory protection; Survey; Work-related asthma
Stephen G. Whittaker, Local Hazardous Waste Management Program, Public Health-Seattle & King County, Seattle, Washington 98104
Publication Date
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Journal Article
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Cooperative Agreement
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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene
Performing Organization
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries