Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Can Ladder Training Save a Life?

Can Ladder Training Save a Life?

In my many years surveying car wash operations, I have found that too many operators fail to provide formal training for ladder safety. I believe that many feel it is too basic a subject and not worth the time and effort. Ladder safety is a simple issue that can turn serious very quickly if it is not addressed correctly. Still having doubts? Consider the following incident:

Several years ago, one of my clients experienced a $2,000,000 verdict due to a claim involving an injury caused by a fall from a ladder. The case involved a vendor who was visiting the property. The vendor needed a ladder tall enough to reach the top of the roof and found that his ladder was too short. Without consulting the operator, he searched and found a ladder to meet his needs in a storage closet. Unbeknownst to him, this was a defective ladder that was scheduled to be disposed of. While climbing to the top of the ladder, a rung gave way, causing the vendor to fall and break his back.

Not the operator’s fault, you say? The jury didn’t agree. There wasn’t a sign on the ladder stating that it was defective. There wasn’t a warning sign on the equipment room door showing entry was restricted to employees only. The ladder wasn’t even properly secured. Also, without a written ladder program, the operator was in violation of an OSHA standard. Don’t let something this easily avoidable happen to you.

The following are some simple steps to establish an effective ladder safety program:

1.    Develop a written ladder procedure. This should address minimum mandatory actions for the selection, installation, maintenance and use of ladders.

2.    Develop a training schedule to ensure that all employees are given the proper information to comply with your policy.

3.    Schedule regular ladder inspection sessions.

4.    Assign a minimum of two employees that will be responsible for the administration of this program.

5.    Be certain that there is a specific procedure for any vendor or contractor, while they are visiting your locations.

6.    Establish an enforcement policy for your ladder program.

7.    Design an easy-to-use checklist to assist employees with compliance.

8.    Do not store ladders near corrosive chemicals that may compromise the integrity of the components.

9.    Remember, aluminum ladders can be conductors of electricity. Care should be taken when carrying these around electrical wiring, particularly in equipment rooms and tunnels.

Here are a few pictures illustrating the incorrect use of ladders:

It’s often difficult to engage employees when they think topics like ladder safety are common sense. However, that is when they need training the most. When employees become too comfortable with the process, it can breed a culture of complacency, leading to carelessness and increasing the chances of avoidable accidents. Understanding the basics of ladder safety will help keep your employees and visitors safe. Often, safety is nothing more than consistent reminders of common sense information! If you already have a plan in place, be sure it meets the minimum criteria listed above. If you don’t, it is important that you create one today!

Remember, a safe wash protects People and Profits!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Almost Disastrous Collapse

Almost Disastrous Collapse


They say a picture is worth a thousand words!

(Pictures provided by Sonny’s CarWash College)

This is what can happen when maintenance is not a regular part of your daily operations. If the vehicle had occupants, this incident could have resulted in serious injuries. Many operators claim to maintain their equipment, but they don't have a standard process in place. 
These days, it is simple to have a written plan or checklist in place to standardize what needs to be maintained, how to perform the maintenance tasks and how to record the results. Many equipment manufacturers provide manuals and simple-to-use forms for this purpose.
The following are some ideas that may help you design a plan around theirs:
·         Identify the pieces of equipment that need to be maintained and determine their average lifespan. Design your schedule of maintenance around the determined time frame.
·         Be sure that all employees tasked with maintenance duties have access to the manuals applicable to each specific piece of car wash equipment
·         When performing maintenance on some of the more common items (i.e. mitters, nozzles, hoses, etc.), it is often a good idea to replace them all simultaneously.
·         Keep your maintenance log in a convenient and easily accessible location. Something as easy as a composition book hanging on each piece of equipment will work.
·         Categorize items by daily, monthly and annual service checks. This will create an easy to follow schedule of maintenance for all of your equipment. Again, your manufacturer can be very helpful in this process.
·         Maintenance extends to all activities that help create a safe and effective work environment. It is crucial to include checklists for housekeeping, damage to equipment or buildings, cleaning walkways and driving surfaces and other similar tasks.
·         Keep an eye on all electrical items when doing a daily visual inspection. Anything that appears out of line should be reported to a licensed electrician immediately. Again, be sure to record all service work.
Consistent and regular maintenance will help ensure that your equipment will safely perform the jobs it is designed for. Well-maintained equipment and a safe work environment help prevent bodily injuries, property damage and destruction to customer’s property. It can also keep your equipment running at peak performance. All of this equates to big savings for your business that go directly to your bottom line!
If you already have a program in place, be sure to review procedures periodically to ensure you have addressed any changes brought about by new equipment or processes. If you don’t have a current plan in place, get one now!


A safe wash protects people and profits!