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Hazard Communication Program


All employers are required by OSHA to develop and carry out a written Hazard Communication Program for your workplace, listing what hazards may be found in your shop and how you will go about informing your employees about the hazards and how to work around these potential hazards safely. The hazard communication program must:

  • Be written
  • Describe how your shop will comply with the standard
  • Deal with plans for labeling hazardous materials
  • Describe how MSDSs will be available in the workplace [Read more…]
  • Describe how information and training will be provided in the workplace
  • Include an inventory (list) of all toxic chemicals known to be present in the workplace, cross-referenced to the MSDS file
  • Explain how workers will be informed of hazards connected with non-routine jobs, such as dealing with accidental spills and leaks
  • Contain information on how contract employers will be informed about hazards their employees encounter while working in the facility

What hazards are found in body shops? Let's make a list.

With few exceptions, every autobody shop worker is exposed to the same hazards. They come in many forms, and some are extremely toxic and cause acute or chronic illnesses. Body shop managers must assess the hazards for their own shop employees.

The most common body shop hazards are listed below. For each category, you should list the specific products used in your shop.

  • Activators and hardeners may contain isocyanates and may be used in clearcoat, primer, sealer and possibly basecoat. Isocyanates are also found in two-part adhesives used to bond body parts. They are a leading cause of occupational asthma. Activators and hardeners also contain ethyl acetate, toluene and other solvents.
  • Thinners contain butyl acetate, ethylbenzene, toluene/xylene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and other solvents.
  • Basecoats contain MEK, titanium dioxide, metallic pigments, xylene and other solvents.
  • Primers contain barium sulfate, resins, fillers, toluene, xylene and other solvents.
  • Clearcoats contain MEK, toluene, mixed dibasic esters, petroleum naphtha and other solvents.
  • Sanding dust has been found to contain lead, arsenic, chromium, manganese and nickel – all of which have adverse effects on the human body. Dust is also an irritant to the respiratory system.
  • Cleaners contain solvents, all harmful to humans.
  • Bondo/filler contains styrene, which may cause cancer, kidney and liver damage, lung damage, weakness, narcosis and other illnesses.
  • Noise from air-powered equipment, such as grinders, sanders, metal cutters, etc., causes hearing loss.
  • Fire danger - always possible with flammable liquids and vapor present.

Note: repeated and prolonged occupational exposure to solvents (such as toluene, xylene, MEK) may cause permanent brain and nervous system damage or cancer.

What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) should always come with any chemical you buy, such as paint or filler. They tell you whether that chemical is hazardous, and if so how to use it safely. Once the dangers are known, plans can be put in place to inform and protect your workers. Read more about MSDSs and see a sample MSDS…

How do I set up a Hazard Communication Program for my shop?

A hazard evaluation should not take much time, starting from the list above. Once the hazards are identified, a written Hazard Communication Program can be put in place. You will put the list of hazards in your shop on the last page of the written Program.

You can download a checklist and written Hazard Communication Program that can be adapted to most shops, with blanks for you to fill in. When filled in, this will fulfill the requirement to have a written plan. Also included is a sample Hazard Communication Program that has been filled out for a typical autobody shop, so you can see how it might look.

Hazard Communication Standard: If you want to, you can download and print out the OSHA standard for this HC Program - but this is not required.

Or you can see the OSHA standard online…

Note: Appendix E is a good summary of the standard.