Monday, October 25, 2010

Electricity can KILL!

Some years ago a young worker at an automatic wash was asked by a manager to remove a defective motor. He had disconnected it from the three wires that were supplying the power but unfortunately unaware that the actual power circuit was not de-energized he continued with the motor removal - at the same time a car entered the tunnel automatically activating the power resulting death by electrocution. He died instantly.

Electricity is an integral part of the everyday life at a carwash. It is imperative that all employees recognize the dangerous circumstances that surround electrical power. With that in mind it is essential to train any employee who may work on any electrical power source. OSHA mandates that all operators have a lock out/ tag out program in place at each location. This is intended to insure that there are proper procedures for shutting down the equipment while maintenance is occurring, so that it can not be unexpectedly started. Your agent or loss control representative will be able to help you design this plan for each of your locations.

Note that OSHA also requires a system for the use of ladders. I am aware of an incident where an employee took it upon himself to fix a potential problem. He used a ladder at the facility to investigate some loose wiring and was severally burned as a result. OSHA requires a written program for ladders at your carwash. One of those requirements is keeping the ladders secured and locked, accessible to trained managers only. In this case the employee was neither a manager nor trained to preform the task. Had this mandated procedure been in place this loss could have been avoided.

Yet another example of ladder misuse ended in a $2million dollar payout. A subcontractor borrowed the carwashes ladder to inspect some roof equipment rather than using his own. As it turned out the ladder he borrowed was defective and resulted in a serious back injury. Aagin had the written and secure procedure been in place this injury could have been avoid.

What are your procedures when it comes to ladders and electricty.....share it with us!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Personal Protective Equipment Basics - Part 2

Many of you may remember a few years ago when a young female employee lost her fingers due to exposure to HF (Hydrofluoric Acid). In this particular instance the accident occurred because the acid was already inside the glove via transfer spillage. The point is, having the right protection is only part of the preventive measures necessary for safety. Keep this in mind as you review the items listed below.

Hand Protection: The one thing to remember with gloves is there is no one glove that provides protection for every type of hazard. Knowing both the hazard you are guarding against, and the type of protection required ensures you will properly protect your hands in all circumstances. Most gloves are designed for a specific hazard or task.

Gloves used for chemical protection are not good for general tasks or with every type of chemical. Just because a glove is right for one type of chemical doesn’t mean it is good with every chemical. It is important to match the right glove to the right chemical.

General work gloves, such as leather gloves, are good for protection against cuts, slivers and blisters, but won’t protect against electrical shock or chemical exposure. Leather gloves are good when handling rough work or material.

Cut-resistant gloves are designed to improve the employee’s grip when holding oily metal parts and to protect hands against metal burrs or other cut hazards. They won’t provide protection against corrosive chemicals.

The important thing to remember about gloves is there is no one glove that will guard against every hazard. Depending on your job, you may need more than one pair of gloves to guard against different types of hazards.

Eye and Face Protection: Eye and face protective equipment provides the user with good protection when worn properly. When equipment doesn’t fit well, it will not provide proper protection and may cause a greater hazard. Adjust all safety equipment to your size so it fits properly and will protect you. Safety glasses must have side shields that are mounted to the frame. The glasses themselves should be adjusted so they fit properly around your ears and on your nose so they don’t keep sliding down. Face shields provide protection for the whole face where glasses only protect the eyes. They have adjustment ratchets on the headband that must be adjusted to the individual user’s head. Goggles provide good protection for eyes against dusts and mists. They should be adjusted properly so they fit snug on your face and there are no gaps between the goggle and your face. Vented goggles help to prevent goggles from fogging up in warm locations.

Foot Protection: Obviously the slip and fall hazard around carwashes is substantial. Be sure that all employees footwear is designed for best traction in a wet environment. Keep in mind that shoes can loose their traction value with wear and even though they look acceptable they may not be.

There are many different types of personal protective equipment that will help keep you safe. Make sure you are always wearing the right equipment for the right job. Make sure all the equipment is adjusted properly and that you keep all the protective equipment clean. Never use any equipment that is broken or is not working properly. Damaged protective equipment provides no protection at all.