PURPOSE: The prevalence of eye injuries among auto mechanics is extremely common, yet it is an area of little study, and even less intervention. Studies have shown the majority of eye injuries in the workplace occur with workers who are not wearing eye protection. This is primarily due to both a lack of availability of proper eye protection, or inadequate education/training on the uses and necessity of eye protection. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is estimated that there are 1,000 eye injuries in the workplace everyday. This leads to more than an estimated three hundred million dollars lost in production time, medical expenses, and workers compensation. More than 40% of these injuries are in craft workers such as mechanics.
METHODS: This report consisted of interviews of 50 employees at six Boston auto repair establishments. Two surveys were developed, one directed towards owners/managers and the other was directed to the mechanics. Managers were surveyed about safety orientation, frequency of OSHA inspections, availability of personal protective equipment (PPE), and maintenance of safety levels. Workers were surveyed on a number of issues including safety training and their personal eye injury experiences. Results were consistent with previous studies showing that 56% of auto mechanics do not wear proper eye protection on the jobsite. This is due to either a lack of availability and/or proper training. These results were despite the fact 62% of auto mechanics received proper eye safety training and 84% of auto mechanics believed eye injuries were preventable.
RESULTS: There is evidence that corporate auto repair businesses adhere to current safety regulations more strictly than privately owned businesses. It is clear that proper use of PPE decreases the incidence of ocular injuries. However, there is still a need for safety education.
CONCLUSIONS: We propose stricter OSHA enforcement of regulations on eye safety, as well as better training programs to educate workers on the risks of eye injuries.