Bulletproof: What 20 Years Can Do To Your Health

Bulletproof: What 20 Years Can Do To Your Health

I once worked at a repair shop next to a small body shop, and I would occasionally see the two guys who worked there on my smoke breaks. Talking to these guys you could tell that something was not right. It seemed the busier they got, the more drunk they got. But, I never saw them drink or go to the liquor store down the street.

Their shop had room for only two cars, and another bay served as a makeshift spray booth. I asked a fellow employee one day about the odd behavior of the guys next door. He said, “They’re not drinkers. They’re just addicted to painting cars.”

Now it was all too clear to me. Their refusal to wear proper protective gear or even a respirator left them inhaling toxic fumes day in and day out.

They were notorious for painting cars that would have a great roof, hood and trunk. But, the longer they painted, the worse the lower parts — like doors and fenders —looked due to their increasing “buzz.”

Talking to some friends recently, I found out that the body shop was gone and one of the guys died due to liver problems.

This news made me realize that if I had been aware of all the harmful things present in a shop back then like I am now, I would have been a lot more careful.

Today, with more access to information, sometimes what I learn scares me when I think back to all the things I have been exposed to.

But, this information has made me ask a deeper question: “Whose responsibility is it to inform technicians about potential hazards?” What I realized is scary: Most of the information that I needed to protect myself was so close, but I was too impatient to look. One of the worst examples of this was perpetually not reading the label or box of the product I was using.

I am not recommending that you start looking at this information so you can start your own product liability case. In fact, I believe that knowing the dangers in your shop and preventing your own demise is a lot more desirable than injuring yourself and waiting for a court ruling or settlement check.

Thinking that a product liability lawsuit is like hitting the lottery is wrong.

But I am older now, and have seen my parents fight battles with cancer. It scares me to think how much I exposed myself unnecessarily to carcinogens in the shop, not to mention my pack-a-day smoking habit that lasted for 20 years. Back then I thought I was bulletproof, but today I realize that I was writing checks my body has to cash now.

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