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Page last reviewed: 08/04/2009
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Autobody Repair and Refinishing

Workers in autobody shops are potentially exposed to a variety of chemical and physical hazards. Chemical hazards may include volatile organics from paints, fillers and solvents; diisocyanates, polyisocyanates, and hexavalent chromium from spray painting operations; silica from sandblasting operations; dusts from sanding; and metal fumes from welding and cutting. Physical hazards include repetitive stress and other ergonomic injuries, noise, lifts, cutting tools, and oil and grease on walking surfaces.

Autobody repair and refinishing is addressed in specific standards for the general industry.

OSHA Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards related to autobody repair and refinishing.

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Frequently Cited Standards

OSHA maintains a listing of the most frequently cited standards for specified 2-6-digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Please refer to OSHA's Frequently Cited OSHA Standards page for additional information. For Automotive Repair and Maintenance use NAICS code 8111 in the NAICS search box.

Other Highlighted Standards

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)

Hazards and Solutions

Many workers are unaware of the potential hazards in their work environment, which makes them more vulnerable to injury. The following references aid in recognizing and controlling some of the hazards associated with autobody repair and refinishing.

Hazard Recognition

  • Preventing Asthma and Death from Diisocyanate Exposure. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-111, (1996). Summarizes seven case reports of disease and deaths following occupational exposure to diisocyanates.

  • Isocyanates. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.

  • Good Practices for Employees in Autobody Shops. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 77-229/National Technical Information Service (NTIS) Publication No. PB 276-677, (1977).

  • HSG-Auto Repair and Body Shops. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 75-136/National Technical Information Service (NTIS) Publication No. PB 83-178-210, (1975).

  • For additional information on hazards associated with autobody repair and refinishing, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Possible Solutions

  • Asbestos-Automotive Brake and Clutch Repair Work. OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB), (2006, July 26). Informs employees and employers in the automotive brake repair industry of the precautions that must be taken when working with automotive brakes and clutches containing asbestos.

  • Quickcard: Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-Powered Vehicles - Automotive Repair Industry [202 KB PDF, 2 pages]. OSHA and Coordinating Committee for Auto Repair (CCAR) Alliance, (2010, February). CCAR developed a Quick Card addressing issues associated with CNG-powered vehicles, including basic safety requirements before working on CNG vehicles.

  • Quickcard: Hexavalent Chromium - Automotive Collision Repair Industry [66 KB PDF, 2 pages]. OSHA and Coordinating Committee for Auto Repair (CCAR) Alliance, (2009, January). CCAR developed a Quick Card addressing issues associated with hexavalent chromium, including precautions that must be taken when refinishing motor vehicle parts.

  • Operating Motor Vehicles: A Guide for Employees in the Automotive Repair Industry. OSHA and Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) Alliance, (2007, March). CCAR developed a guide providing workers with information on safe driving and their responsibilities while driving a motor vehicle for their company.

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Health Hazard Evaluations (HHEs).
    • Matrix Auto Body, Englewood, Colorado [361 KB PDF, 27 pages]. Report No. HETA 95-0406-2609, (1996, October). Describes an assessment of worker exposure to isocyanates during spray painting of automobiles. Other concerns for worker exposure included solvents, total dusts, noise, carbon monoxide (CO), and metals.
    • Spence's Carstar, Denver, Colorado [373 KB PDF, 26 pages]. Report No. HETA 95-0405-2600, (1996, September). Summarizes two NIOSH assessments of worker exposure to isocyanates during spray painting of automobiles.
    • Martin's Carstar, Inc., Lakewood, Colorado [285 KB PDF, 27 pages]. Report No. HETA 95-0311-2593, (1996, August). Summarizes two NIOSH assessments of worker exposure to isocyanates during spray painting of automobiles.

  • Control of Dusts From Sanding in Autobody Repair Shops. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-105, (1996).

  • Control of Paint Overspray in Autobody Repair Shops. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 96-106, (1996).

  • A Control Matrix for Spray Painting at Autobody Repair Shops. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Public Health Service (PHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering, (1998, May).

  • Heitbrink W.A., et al. "A Comparison of Conventional and HVLP Spray Painting Guns." Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 57(1996): 304-310.

  • Heitbrink W.A., et al. "Control of Paint Overspray in Autobody Repair Shops." Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 56.10(1995): 1023-1032.

  • Heitbrink W.A., et al. "Evaluation of Ventilated Sanders in the Autobody Repair Industry." Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 55.8(1994): 756-759.

  • For additional information, see OSHA's Safety and Health Topics Pages on:

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Other Resources

  • Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR). OSHA Alliance Page.

  • Small Business Handbook. OSHA Publication 2209-02R, (2005). Also available as a 587 KB PDF, 56 pages. Assists in identifying topics that are applicable to all covered industries, including autobody shops. Provides help to small business employers in meeting the legal requirements imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 and achieve an in-compliance status before an OSHA inspection.

  • Occupational Chemical Database. OSHA maintains this chemical database as a convenient reference for the occupational safety and health community. It compiles information from several government agencies and organizations. This database originally was developed by OSHA in cooperation with EPA.

  • Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities to Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 2003 to 2005 [134 KB PDF, 5 pages]. US Department of Labor (DOL), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), (2007, May 23). Reports that mechanics are more likely than the average worker to be injured or killed on the job, as evidenced by higher rates of fatalities and injuries and illnesses. Their fatality rate was 5.3 per 100,000 employed in 2005, which was higher than the rate of 4.0 per 100,000 employed for all occupations combined.

  • Automotive Refinishing Partnership. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)/Design for the Environment (DfE). A voluntary program that works in partnership with the collision repair industry and schools to promote best practices and technologies that reduce toxic emissions of diisocyanates, organic solvents, heavy metals, and other hazardous air pollutants. The program encourages the development of safer paint products and conducts train-the-trainer best practices workshops to promote outreach to shops across the country. Online resources include the Self-evaluation checklist of Best Practices and the Emissions Reduction Calculator, which estimates paint and cost savings, along with reductions in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates.

  • Collision Repair Campaign. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A voluntary program between EPA and local communities that works to reduce and eliminate harmful air toxics from collision repair, or auto body shops, across the nation. This program provides free training, technical assistance, and community outreach to local collision repair shops. The program's goal is to drastically reduce health and environmental impacts from collision repair shops at the national level. It also aims to help shops achieve early compliance and beyond with EPA's Paint Stripping & Miscellaneous Surface Coating Rule by implementing best management practices.

  • Auto Body Certification Program. State of Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Includes a historical perspective, new research findings, program elements, certification workbook, and more.

  • Compliance Assistance for Automotive Repair Shops. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Features Florida's DEP program, which is designed to improve the environmental compliance of regulated facilities.

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