Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OSHA defines personal protective equipment as equipment worn to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards. Personal protective equipment may include items such as gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs, etc.
With that said, as the saying goes, "you can lead the horse to water, but you can't make him drink" So, the question is, you can provide the items needed to protect the employee, but how do you make them use it? OSHA requires more than availability.

There was an interesting article in Safety/NewsAlert titled "Is it enough to provide safety gear, or do you have to make 'em use it"? Article Link Even though this pertained to a workers compensation case, it raises a good question that I believe every operator should ask themselves. What do I do to promote the use of the devices that will keep my employees safe?

 The following are some ideas that should be part of your list:
  • Are employees held accountable for not using protective equipment? How severe should the punishment be? Termination?
  • How easy do you make it to find the equipment you want them to use? Are they in a properly labeled container in close proximity of the hazard?
  • Do you train the employees to understand the risks of not using the protection and show them how and when to use it?
  • Do you have written policies regarding the company's expectation for using the safety equipment?
  • Is the equipment clean and comfortable to use?
  • Do you have a maintenance plan to keep the equipment in good working condition?
  • Did you assign a person to monitor a personal protection program? Are you aware of how effective it is?
  • Do you use signage to warn employees of the hazards and advise them what equipment to use? Are the signs readable and in the proper language?

  • Do you encourage employees to report unsafe conditions that would require protection equipment? (Front line eyes & ears)
Car wash tunnels and especially equipment rooms are usually the areas that pose the most serious threats to your employee's well-being. This makes the use of personal protection equipment by your employee one of the most important aspects of any safety program. At a minimum, these questions should become a checklist along with any additional ideas you may have to engage the staff to use these devices.

Keep in mind, as employers, there are at least two reasons compliance is critical to your business. First, if an employee is hurt and depending on the severity of an injury, OSHA may elect to levy fines for what they may consider non-compliance with the intent of the regulation. Secondly, even more importantly, an injured worker will cost your company a great deal of time and money. Begin today!

For additional information on personal protection equipment, please visit the following links to car wash safety 101.
Link 1
Link 2

Let us know what questions you would add to our list.

Remember, a safe wash protects people and profits!

Monday, October 13, 2014

It May Be Too Late!

The subject for this month's blog is a little different than my usual safety topics but equally as important.
Don't be one of those Operators that have to make frantic calls to keep their business open!

The reality is that it can happen when you least expect it. It can start after being notified by the Insurance Agent that the Company writing the policy covering the wash is being non-renewed in the next few days. And why could this happen? Very often it is the result of a carrier deciding that the claims have become too frequent.

There is a mortgage and without evidence of insurance, what do you think the bank will do??
Now the nightmare begins. The Agent often doesn't realize, until very late in the process, that finding another market to write this business is now difficult if not impossible. So, suddenly they hand off the problem to you with very little time to find another option.
Unfortunately, this could mean your only choice will be to find yourself a non-standard insurance company. That normally will leave you with limited coverage, questionable claims assistance, and substantially higher premiums. And, even if you are lucky to find a standard company to write your business, it will most likely be double the cost.
There is a pro-active solution and it's called claims management. Simply, following some of the following steps may help avoid this potential disaster:
  • Request electronic claims reports from the Agent or Company at least every 4 months. This will allow you the ability to review, on a regular basis, anything that has been posted by the insurance company. If there are any claims that you want to dispute, this provides enough time for a discussion before the renewal comes up. You should note that most paid claims are settled for the full amount even though there may be a deductible. The insurance company then in turn bills for the deductible at a later date. For instance, if you have a $1000 deductible for property damage to customers vehicles and you incur 3 claims you can expect a $3,000 bill in your future. This can be a real shock, especially if you are unaware of the claims!
  • When an incident is reported, it is important that a report be filed as soon as possible. Timely documentation is extremely critical to ensure the most favorable outcome for the customer, employee and the insurance company.
  • Not all insurance companies have the same expertise with handling claims in a particular industry group so, do not assume that your carrier will or can fight to deny paying questionable cases. To help mitigate these circumstances, it is often prudent to be personally involved in each case and provide as much information as possible to your claims examiner. The more you cooperate, the better chance you will have of having a positive result.
  • Record all incidents, no matter how small or incidental it might seem. This is important from the standpoint of reviewing claims to detect any patterns that might lead to a better understanding of why this loss occurred. The result of this analysis might help you mitigate or eliminate future problems by suggesting changes in processes or procedures.
  • When you do investigate claims that you don't feel are your fault, it is prudent to save all the paper work regarding what happened and include witness reports, police reports, pictures, video and all accident reports. It is a good idea to maintain these records for at least a year.
  • Appoint a claims committee to review all incidents, even if they are not reported to the insurance company.
Start today and implement your claims management plan at the wash. It will help insure your ability to continue to protect your  people and your assets!
A couple of reminders:
  1. For employers with 10 or more employees, there is a change in the injury and illness recording and reporting requirements from OSHA. This becomes effective January 1, 2015 for all work-related accidents. For a complete copy of this rule, click here
  2. Winter will be here soon.  If your location is in an area with snow and ice, get your salt logs ready!
A safe wash protects people and profits!