The mission of the FAA "...is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world". We, as general aviation maintenance technicians, aspire to the same goal as far as safety is concerned. I feel that "efficiency" is more of a logistical idea of how aircraft are positioned around the country and normally does not affect our day to day job. Through our inspections and maintenenace of general aviation aircraft, we attempt to make sure that every time the airplane flys, it safe to do so.
Safety also has a different meaning to the technician in the hangar. The mechanic who went searching for an avgas leak from beneath the wing with a cigarette lighter did not have safety in mind and jeopordized the safety of every other person in the shop. This person luckily did not find the leak and is no longer working with us. I hope he has learned more common sense in his new career. The fuel leak was found and repaired in a safe manner.
An aircraft has many ways to injure the human body without the plane ever moving. Battery acid seems to burn the skin without any flame, sharp vent tubes seem to be sticking out everywhere you turn and feel like a super-sized hypodermic needle, and pitot tubes get hot enough to cause blisters.
Most injuries can be avoided when working around the aircraft. Being aware of where you are working and a good knowledge of the system that you are investigating are the most important details for safety. I was working on a nose wheel one day when the propeller started hitting me on the head. I knew the engine could not start as I had disconnected the aircraft battery as a precaution. I looked up and another mechanic was attempting to move the prop to dress out some nicks in the leading edge. He couldn't figure out why the prop wouldn't move until I said to him "Are you through yet?" This is a minor example of how easy it would be to get hurt without trying. After working together for a short time, a good crew gets a feel for what everyone else is doing on the job and injuries are far & few between.
An aircraft has many different fluids on board-brake fluid, hydraulic fluid, engine oil, anti-ice fluid, fuel, etc. Spilled fluids on the hangar floor not only make a mess but are very slippery. Keeping the work area clean is essential for safety. Don't want to slip and get stabbed by a pitot tube.
Metal shavings, electrical systems, high pressure fluids, oxygen systems, cleaning solvents, paint thinners, lead by-products, combustion heaters, etc. (to name a few) make for a very interesting and challenging profession.
Safety of flight and safety in the hangar are both important to the general aviation maintenance personnel.