Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let us count the ways!

We blogged about chemical safety, OSHA requires it, there have been a flurry of articles recently and it's a hot topic at an upcoming trade show.  So it's obvious that many people in this industry believe this is a message that must be heard.  However, if the message is never implemented it is meaningless. 

Case in point, a carwash manager asked a employee, with only 1.5 months of carwash experience, to transfer a chemical from one barrel to another.  During the process the hose slipped out spilling some of the solution on the employees' sneaker.  Most likely because the employee was unaware of the danger, he did not mention the mishap right away.  As his foot began to bother him he reported it to the manager and was told to go home to remove his shoes and socks.  It was assumed the he would report to work the next day.  By the time he arrived home the burn had progressed so severely he had to be taken to the hospital.  Four months later, after several skin grafts and rehabilitation the employee was able to return to work. 

This is currently an open claim already surpassing $30,000. 

So how does this really impact the owner of the wash?  Let us count the ways!
  1. New employees are one of the most costly investments.  Here the employee had to be replaced immediately.
  2. Countless hours of paperwork and time with doctors, insurance claim and employee.
  3. Significant loss that will be part of the owner's record for three long years when placing his insurance.  This can equate to an increase in premium from 20% - 40%.
  4. Four months from a young employee's life not to mention the fact that he will have scarring for his entire life.
  5. Negative impact on other personnel with regard to safety issues.
The real kicker......it could have been avoided if there were three basic protocols in place.
  1. Proper employee training - including chemicals
  2. Proper use of MSDS sheets
  3. Procedures to address employee injury/accident
Had the employee been properly trained on the importance to safely handling chemicals and then how vital it would have been to immediately report the accident, and the manager had a procedure to follow, refer to the MSDS sheet for direction and rinsed the employees' foot immediately he may not have been disfigured.

The only way to respond instinctively is to be trained repetitively.  Have procedure, train it and practice, practice, practice it, to make it perfect.  Because when an accident occurs and you are scared, worried or in reactive mode.....you will know what to do, where to go and who can help.

Those of you who are reading this are probably thinking, I know all this, but do you practice it?  And if you do, do your employees?

If you have any suggestions how to ensure chemical safety is properly followed please share with our readers.

Washing safely means bigger profits, healthy employees and happy customers!