Friday, June 21, 2019

Safety Training For Car Wash Customers

Most car washes across the country invest significant capital, time and energy to implement a well-developed employee training program. Far fewer seem to place the same emphasis on educating and training their customers in safe practices. The most successful washes emphasize employee and customer training equally to create a safe environment and mitigate risk. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider while designing a customer training plan for your car wash:

·         How effective are your entrance and exit signs? Signage should be visible in more weather conditions, easy to read and provide adequate directional symbols.

·         Are there signs recommending that customers refrain from using cell phones at the wash?

·         Do you alert your customers about the potential damage to the wash, employees and other patrons from loose parts, debris in the back of pickups, certain aftermarket items, etc. in their vehicles?

·         Does your wash subscribe to the practice of using employee hand signals when customers are driving onto the conveyor? Is there a standard in place supported by signage instructing patrons on what to do?

·         Have you considered using stop and go lights at the exit of the tunnel to more effectively control the flow of traffic?

·         Are you using sound devices to alert customers to when the car wash process ends?

·         In the vacuum area, are you using signage to advise customers to properly replace hoses after use?

·         Are you using signage to inform motorists driving around your property to be cautious due to a high level of pedestrian traffic?

·         What policy do you have in place in the vacuum area to advise parents with children to stay vigil and keep them close and under control?

·         What have you done to keep customers from walking in dangerous areas of your property? Examples: Cones, foot path visuals, striping, barriers, etc.

·         If customers must cross in front of bays to retrieve their vehicles, is their signage to warn them to stay alert?

·         Are you using signage and locking the door to the equipment room to prevent unwelcomed access from customers?

·         Are your chemicals stored in a safe and secure location?

·         Is your property free from debris? Old equipment lying around, or empty containers can pose a risk of injury to wondering customers.

·         Do you periodically perform an in-depth walk thru of the property to determine if there are any dangerous conditions customers might be exposed to? During, if you observe any questionable safety concerns don’t assume your customers will “know better”.  Forewarned is forearmed.

This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list and I’m certain there are more items that can be used to educate the customers while they visit your wash.  It might be a good time to challenge your employees to come up with their own suggestions.

I believe there’s a misconception that if your wash is an exterior only or express exterior where customers drive their own cars, the business is absolved of any liability. However, the owner of the property still has the responsibility of maintaining a safe environment at the location. As such, it's essential that you take the proper steps to protect your customers or you may face property damage or personal injury claims.

Evaluate and implement your customer training plan today so your wash is prepared to prevent or mitigate potential risks. It will not only increase your profits but it’s the right thing to do!
Remember, a safe wash protects people and profits!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Portable Heater Hazards

As always, the cold season sneaks up on us quickly. Last year, one of our operators suffered a $151,000 loss as a result of their attempts to stay warm. A portable heater was left too close to a combustible surface and it burst into flames. It was overnight so fortunately nobody was injured but as you can see below, the damage was significant. Something like this serves as a reminder that even the simplest things can escalate and get out of control fast.
I recently had the opportunity to visit several car washes where I observed portable heaters ready to be placed throughout the tunnel. While I’m certain they will keep employees warm, will they be safely utilized? If your business doesn’t have company policies and procedures in place, I fear any safe use of this equipment will be based solely on luck. Not a comforting thought.
The following are some points that should be considered as a part of ownership of these devices. These are courtesy of Dave Snyder in McNeil’s Risk Management department and are:
  •  Management needs to determine where and how to place these devices.
  • Under no circumstances should they be used within 10 feet of any combustible materials.
  • If an extension cord is necessary, be sure it conforms to the manufacturer's standards before use. If you choose this option, keep in mind the additional tripping hazard it would present.
  • When considering using a fuel-based unit, use caution during refueling operations. Make sure fuel is stored in approved, properly labeled receptacles that are stored in cabinets specifically designed for flammable materials.
  • Prior to any use, each heater must be inspected to ensure there is no damage, leaking fuel, or frayed cords.
  • Never leave the unit unattended while running.
  • Only portable heaters approved by management are acceptable.
  • Be certain that all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are checked regularly. Remember to document this inspection each time it's completed.
  • All portable fire extinguishers must be properly mounted and checked to ensure they are in working order. Be certain that all appropriate placards are visible as well.
  • Employees should be properly trained on fire extinguisher operations.
Remember that operating these units in enclosed environments can pose the potential added risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.  The following are a few symptoms to learn in anticipation and recognition of this danger:
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
Once again, my personal thanks to Dave Snyder and Risk Management at McNeil for contributing these very important facts. They are able to assist with any help with designing a company policy for the safe use of portable heaters. Don’t put it off till something goes terribly wrong, start now!

Remember a safe wash helps protect people and profits!