Automotive plant workers are exposed to a laundry list of workplace hazards that require safety gear. Automobile frames are primarily metal, so arm, hand, and eye injuries are a constant concern, especially if incorrect PPE is worn.
Since the assembly line remains the core place where automobile components come together and are assembled, many injuries occur there. Those who are responsible for assembling vehicles are exposed to harsh work conditions while performing a wide variety of repetitive tasks. They bolt, clip, place, and fasten thousands of parts together, all around sharp metal.
Worker placing automobile parts with the 92743PU, a high-cut and high-dexterity glove.
This blog focuses on automotive assembly PPE and production safety gear, specifically the gloves assemblers should wear.
Safety in Automotive
Good news – automotive injury rates have been coming down! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive manufacturing injury cases decreased from a rate of 10.2 per 100 full-time workers in 2003 to a rate of 5.6 per 100 full-time workers in 2010. While the decrease in on-the-job injury numbers is welcome news, the dangers still exist. And with the increase in production of new electrical vehicles, the continued decline in injury rates isn’t guaranteed.
As one of the Big 3 automakers told us at a recent AISTech tradeshow, electric vehicles require more and more thinner gauged metal. With thinner gauged metals, workers need better hand dexterity and grip. We’ve got some new designs that will allow for increased dexterity and grip and we’ll cover those more in-depth below.
This chart shows the incident rates of non-fatal injury cases found across all automotive-related sub-industries
Recordable cases per 100 employees
We highlight each one of the above sub-industries in our central Automotive resource page.
Assembly Employment Across the Automotive Industry
In 2016, there were 1,819,300 people employed as assemblers and fabricators in the United States across a variety of industries, including the automotive industry. Unfortunately, the BLS projects that the total number of assembler and fabricator jobs is going to decline 14% by 2026, owing to advances in automation.
On a more positive note, the largest segment of workers found in automotive are those assembling the finished product. Let’s look at more specific numbers of assemblers and fabricators in a few automotive sub-industries. In 2017:
- 165,650 people worked in the motor vehicle parts manufacturing sub-industry.
- 141,150 people worked in the motor vehicle manufacturing sub-industry.
- 60,580 people worked in the motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing sub-industry.
We cover many aspects of these automotive specialties below. For even more insight, the BLS provides a complete page for this type of worker.
BLS Handbook for Assemblers
The Assembly Line
As we highlight on our Automotive industry page, the assembly line was pioneered in the U.S. by Henry Ford. His improved manufacturing process continues to be the industry standard in automotive manufacturing and a multitude of other industries.
On an automotive assembly line, simultaneous work activities are taking place at several different stations along the line. When one station is finished with an assembly activity, the vehicle passes on to the next. By having multiple stations functioning at one time, a larger volume of vehicles is produced.
Here are some of the different stages of assembly:
- Hard Trim – fitting instrument panels and steering columns
- Soft Trim and Final Assembly – where a majority of workers are found fitting seats, door pads, and upholstery
The journey doesn’t end there. Other stations along the line install the engine, petrol tank, exhaust, and bumpers. We lay out all the steps of the process on our Automotive Vehicle Manufacturing resource page. Click the image below to check out all 16 steps found in the manufacturing of vehicles.
The automotive manufacturing process
Assembly and Fabrication Activities
Assemblers and fabricators assemble all the parts into one functioning, finished trailer or vehicle.
To accomplish their job, they use power tools, machines, and their hands to bring parts into a finished product. PPE keeps workers safe when performing the following assembly tasks:
- Adjusting small parts and screws
- Assembling bolts
- Assembling chassis
- Assembling components like dashboards, panels, and seats
- Assembling electrical components and wire harnesses
- Assembling finished products
- Assembling parts
- Attaching cables
- Body trimming
- Connecting devices
- Connecting wire harnesses
- Constructing finished products
- Fastening components and parts
- Feeling fine parts
- Screwing, tightening, and clamping of parts
- Installing electronics and wiring
- Installing carpet, door pads, door mechanisms, and headliners
- Loading components on the line
- Moving heavy parts and items from bulk containers, racks, shelves, or in bins
- Position components such as motors, gear boxes, drive trains in and on machine frame
- Pushing carts and totes
- Set up, fit, and bolt place large parts such as frames, brackets
- Using a wide range of tools (This task is a major source of cut and puncture injuries, as identified in previous blogs.)
Using Tools on an Assembly Line
For a full list of the work activities and tasks that assemblers perform, be sure to check out onetonline.org. It outlines the dangerous tasks that workers in this field face every day. This is why wearing the right PPE is so critical and why MCR Safety works hard to match the right PPE to the job.
Potential Assembly Hazards
Metal and cut hazards are abound in automotive assembly, which is why workers in this industry need to protect their hands and arms. Almost everywhere you look in automotive assembly, workers come into contact with metal. One nick against freshly welded metal can cause serious injury to a worker.
Arm protection is a critical piece of PPE worn in automotive manufacturing.
Beyond cut injuries, automotive manufacturing employees come in contact with many hazards. Every day these men and women work around lubricants, brake fluid, oil and grease; lifting heavy objects; touching and inspecting metal that may have sharp or jagged edges; welding sparks; flying objects; and a variety of other dangers.
Our Automotive industry page provides deeper insight into the hazards workers in this industry face and what PPE products to consider.
Finding the Right Glove for Assembly Work
Worker accuracy and speed are two areas of high importance when assembling components. This means choosing the right glove is extremely important, as a worker can’t afford downtime or limited hand movement when screwing in bolts, nuts, or parts. Their takt time will suffer! When choosing the right assembly gloves for your needs, you definitely need to consider the cut protection offered and the dip:
- Cut-Resistant Gloves
You want to pay attention to the cut-resistance properties of any PPE that you purchase, including gloves and sleeves. As previously mentioned, sharp metal is everywhere in automotive plants. Our Cut Protection page provides a tool to help you quickly find the right gloves based on specific cut scores.
MCR Safety’s cut protection sorting tool. Click the image to start using!
- Polyurethane-dipped Gloves
80% of assemblers wear PU-dipped gloves. Polyurethane (PU)-dipped gloves provide both an excellent sense of touch and high abrasion resistance. Plus, polyurethane is an incredibly resilient, flexible, and durable polymer.
We’re excited to tell you about two of our newer gloves that offer dexterity, cut protection, and a PU coating. Both options are ideal for most of the activities that assembly workers perform.
MCR Safety Cut Pro™ (92743PU)
This advanced glove has a 13-gauge seamless salt & pepper Hypermax™ shell that offers cut-, tear-, and abrasion-resistance. The gray PU-coated palm and fingertips provide a durable grip and hide dirt, grit, and grime. The glove is also comfortable and easy to wear, while offering good dexterity, so you can tackle even the toughest jobs with comfort and ease.
Memphis Cut Pro™ (9828PU)
This advanced glove features an 18-gauge green/yellow Hypermax™ engineered yarn shell, which provides high levels of cut-resistance. It offers excellent dexterity and flexibility, and its PU palm and finger coating offers both good abrasion-resistance and grip, so you can concentrate on your job and not worry about your hands slipping.
All Automotive Assembly Gloves
Advancements in fiber technology have allowed work gloves to become lighter and stronger. Below is a table that can help you figure out which of our gloves are right for your assembly and fabrication tasks. From left to right, we break down gloves by gauge. Whether you’re looking for general-purpose gloves or looking for gloves that offer a specific cut-resistance, we have the gloves for you.
General Purpose PU Dipped
Gauge Fiber Part # Performance
- Featherweight 18G Shell Blue Nylon (N9696) (30% Lighter than traditional PU styles)
- Ultra-lightweight 15G Shell Black Nylon (96695)
- Lightweight 13G Shell Black Nylon (9669)
- Lightweight 13G Shell Black Polyester (96699)
- Lightweight 13G Shell White Nylon (9665)
- Lightweight 13G Shell White Polyester (96655)
- Lightweight 13G Shell Grey Nylon (9666)
General Purpose PU Dipped
Gauge Fiber Part # Performance
- Featherweight 18G Shell Red Nylon (N96970) (Breathable Coating)
- Ultra-lightweight 15G Shell Grey Nylon (967315) (Latex Free)
- Ultra-lightweight 15G Shell Grey Nylon (N96790) (Breathable Coating)
- Lightweight 13G Shell Grey Nylon (9673)
Cut Resistant PU Dipped
Gauge Fiber Part # Cut Performance
- Featherweight 18G Shell Green/Yellow Hypermax® (9828PU) ANSI A5 Cut-Resistance
- Featherweight 18G Shell Blue Hypermax® (92718PU) ANSI A2 Cut-Resistance
- Ultra-lightweight 15G Shell Yellow Kevlar (9693PU) ANSI A2 Cut-Resistance
- Ultra-lightweight 15G Shell Diamond Dyneema® (9676) ANSI A3 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 15G Shell Orange Kevlar® (9178PUO) ANSI A4 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 13G Shell Hypermax® (92752) ANSI A4 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 13G Shell Hypermax® (92743PU) ANSI A6 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 13G Shell White Diamond Dyneema® (9677) ANSI A3 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 13G Shell Diamond Dyneema® (9672) ANSI A3 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 13G Shell Black Hypermax® (92733PU) ANSI A3 Cut-Resistance
- Lightweight 13G Shell Hypermax® (92723PU) ANSI A3 Cut-Resistance
We mentioned our Cut Protection page above. Our cut-resistant catalog is your next step for all cut-resistant options, including the sleeves that almost all assembly workers wear.
We Protect People Across the Automotive Industry
At MCR Safety, we are committed to offering automotive assembly workers the best possible PPE to protect them all day, every day. Our PPE is also comfortable and allows workers the range of motion necessary to get the job done!
The majority of what we have highlighted above has been focused on assembly gloves and sleeves. We know automotive assembly workers require a wide array of PPE, from excellent eye protection to FR apparel. We cover all of these PPE types in-depth on our Automotive Industry page.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world-leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on the shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. It’s all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protection equipment you need.
We Protect People!
Learn more about MCR Safety by checking out our most recent video. For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.