No matter the industry, there’s almost always the potential for workplace accidents. Auto body shops in particular can be dangerous environments because of the contact that employees have with heavy equipment, tools, sharp objects and hazardous chemicals.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide workers with a safe working environment and follow regulations for documenting incidents. Here’s what you need to know about how to report an auto body workplace accident.
Common Auto Body Mechanic Accidents
The state of Washington conducted some research in 2006 to determine what the primary causes of injuries were for auto body shops and which injuries were leading to the most worker’s compensation claims. Here’s what they found:
- Eye injuries are frequently caused by particles that impact unprotected eyes, especially when prepping vehicles with grinders and sanders.
- Cuts and lacerations to fingers frequently result from using knives and other blades while prepping vehicles for painting
- Back and other musculoskeletal injuries result from lifting heavy objects and working in awkward postures when disassembling and prepping vehicles
- Respiratory (lung) diseases like work-related asthma result from exposure to the isocyanates present in polyurethane-based coatings, linings and paints.
Meeting OSHA Requirements
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency responsible for regulating workplace safety and ensuring the wellbeing of workers. Under the record keeping regulation 29 CFR 1904, employers must prepare records and directly report fatalities and serious injuries or illnesses. While OSHA requirements change from time to time, starting January 1, 2015 they will be as follows:
In the event of a fatality, it must be reported within 8 hours. In the event of severe accidents or illnesses, they must reported within 24 hours. According to OSHA, a severe accident can be categorized as something involving work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations and loss of an eye.
There are two main ways to contact OSHA. One is to call them at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). They are also developing an online contact form, which should be available in the near future through this link.
Proper Record Keeping
Regardless of the severity of an injury, it’s important to maintain accurate records. Even if it’s only minor, this will be helpful for insurance purposes and can protect your business if there is a fraudulent claim. This starts by filling out OSHA forms 300, 300A and 301, which you can find here. These forms make it simple to identify the employee that gets injured, describe the accident and document the specifics of what happened.
For minor injuries that don’t need to be directly reported to OSHA, an injury or illness should documented within 7 days after taking place, and the form should be kept on file for 5 years. To be safe, it’s smart to create at least two copies of these forms, and you may even want to back them up electronically for added protection.
Because of the somewhat dangerous nature of this occupation, you should do everything you can to keep workers safe, and have a plan in place for when accidents happen. Understanding OSHA requirements, knowing how to report an auto body workplace accident and maintaining records should keep your business compliant and minimize any complications.