Thursday, October 31, 2013

If The Shoe Fits!


Slips, trips and falls are nothing to laugh about. In the car wash industry, those of us that have been around awhile know that losing your footing can cause serious injuries. This exposure surely exists for both customers and employees alike. However, the purpose of this blog is to address the employee side.

There are many reasons why employees slip and fall at the car wash. But, one of the most common causes of these incidents is the improper use of acceptable footwear.  In fact, in a study published by the National Floor Safety Institute over 24% of these incidents can be attributed to that specific factor.

The following represents some basic facts that may assist in helping you and your employees understand how to properly make the right choice in selecting safer footwear.

The first simple consideration, of course, is to use slip resistant shoes. Here are some criteria to accomplish that:
  • Use shoes with wide grooves to channel liquids
  • Look for soles with slip resistant rubber compounds
  • The sole should be flat
  • The lower the heal, the better
  • Depending on the job description, use steel toed shoes
  • They should be water resistant
  • Select shoes that are ankle height
Also, the following are some common sense rules to include in your list of conditions outlined in the footwear program at the wash:
  • Ensure the shoes are comfortable and fit snugly
  • Monitor the tread regularly
  • All footwear should be in good condition at all times
  • Inspect for damage and replace or repair any worn or defective parts
  • Soles that are smooth should be replaced immediately
  • Match the footwear to either weather conditions or specific work activity
For example, keep in mind that the exposure will vary if the employee is working in a lube or detail center as opposed to concrete. The employee at the lube might be better off using a shoe with an oil-resistant sole. If they are moving drums or heavy items regularly steel toed shoes are recommended. With ice or snow it would be a good idea to have slip-resistant traction devices that fit over the shoe.

A good way to monitor these steps is to develop a simple checklist for each employee that should be reviewed at least bi weekly.

There are a few vendors that specialize in footwear and offer assistance selecting the appropriate shoes that will match the exposures common to most car washes. I have included a few links to view a couple of options; and

Please note the chart below which depicts the relationship between shoe soles and the work activity.

Once again, adding this program to your safety routine can save your company big dollars and go a long way to keeping your employees safer. I urge you to investigate some type of footwear plan and implement it today!
Tell us about your Footwear program and remember:

A safe wash protects people and profits!
Excerpts of the information presented here were obtained from a webinar conducted by Mike Benmosche-McNeil & Company, Bob Mellendick-CNA Small Business Risk Control Director and David Ludwin-CNA General and Products Liability Risk Control Director.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Its All Fun And Games Until Someone Loses An Eye"

The headline on a website titled INJURY SETTLEMENT GUIDE, a resource for individuals seeking legal  advice on personal injury cases, was “Eye injury due to lack of safety gear while working at a car wash” Could this be inspired by an incident that happened at your wash?

In short, the article is from a car wash employee claiming she was asked to clean the walls in a car wash tunnel, some of the chemical used to wash the walls got in her eye and she lost partial vision. Her version of the event was that this task was assigned to her after being on the job less than a few months without training, or proper safety equipment. Her legal question was to find out if she had a remedy other than workers compensation available to compensate her for her injuries. In other words, can she sue the car wash owner?
As I visit washes across the country, one of the most common observations I make is related to poor practices in the supply and use of eye protection. This is not only disturbing but a clear violation of OSHA.  Any employee that is exposed to chemicals that are categorized as a hazard falls under the standard 29 CFR 1910.133-eye and face protection.
The following are some ideas that may assist your facility with some criteria to help design a plan to ensure employees have the proper eye protection: 
  1. Use goggles that guard against splashing. This means they should have continuous shielding around all edges to prevent chemicals from entering from above, below and from either side. Open ended eyewear is not acceptable when working with chemicals.
  2. Be sure that the splash goggles are not stored with other eye protection. This will prevent an employee from choosing the wrong set of glasses. 
  3.  Regularly inspect the condition of the approved eyewear. They are exposed to tough conditions daily and will most likely need constant attention. It is a good idea to keep a log with the date checked and also when they were last purchased. Also, be sure that damaged glasses are thrown away immediately. The following are a few items to look for during the inspection process:
    • Test the elastic to be sure it has not stretched out to a point where the glasses no longer stay tight.
    •  Look for scratches on the lenses that make it uncomfortable to see out of.
    •   Be sure the plastic edges are not worn to a point where the liquid can leak into the glasses.
    • Be sure the glasses are clean. Employees will not use equipment that appears dirty.
  4. Find a safe place to store eye protection close to the hazard where they are visible. If they are in a cabinet, be sure to use signage to identify where they are stored.
  5. The following are some tips on what to train all employees regarding eyewear protection:
    • Review hazards relating to all chemicals on the property 
    • Explain the various jobs associated with these chemicals, i.e. transfer, wall cleaning 
    • Review who can and who can’t work with chemicals 
    • Be sure to point out the most dangerous chemicals along with the potential risks 
    • Review where the eyewear protection will be stored 
    • Assign a least two individuals who will be responsible for the eyewear program 
    • Make it a disciplinary offense to be found working with chemicals without the proper eye protection. This needs to be a rule that is enforced to be sure that all employees are held accountable.
Losing the use of your eyes would be a tragic event that none of us in the industry want to happen. Especially, when there are easy solutions to prevent this. Once it is done, there is no turning back. Unless management at the wash accepts responsibility for devising a plan to prevent eye injuries, it will happen.

If your current safety manual does not include some of the items outlined in this blog, it is imperative that you begin the process necessary to add this topic. Hopefully, you have a staff available and my suggestion is to assign this to a committee with a specific completion date. Keep in mind that your insurance and chemical representatives can be a valuable resource when you establish your eyewear protection plan.

Keep your employees safe and start today!



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What you should know about the potential exposures from rug beaters to employees and customers!

True story…a car wash customer elects an option to clean her carpets after she gets her car washed. This particular location offers a self serve carpet cleaner adjacent to the vacuum area. She follows the directions as best as she can. Having never done this before, she gets nervous as she places the rug into the machine and it grabs it more violently than expected. Thinking that it will damage the item, she tries to pull it back out. It drags her to a point where she bends down and at the same time her pony tail flips over. She is inches away from the hair being pulled in with the rug. Fortunately, she pulls away in time but is understandably shaken from the experience. so, even though a potentially major injury has been adverted, her memory of this experience will be what she remembers of this wash.

Over the years, I have done hundreds of carwash surveys. Those locations that use rug beaters as a service rarely have adequate signage warning employees or customers of some of the conditions that could lead to injury. A few ideas are: use caution when:

1. You are wearing loose clothing
2. You are wearing loose jewelry
3. You are wearing ties or scarves
4. If you have not read the operating instructions

Some of these machines have some safety instructions in tiny print on the front. I recommend that a separate sign with large printed lettering be placed above along with the directions on how to use the device.

Remember  it is best to use experienced employees when repairing these machines; the interior parts are often very sharp and with little space to maneuver in, which could cause severe cuts.

If you are looking to add a rug beater to your operations, there are some models that are side fed and would be safer, especially for customers using a self service machine.

What are you doing at your wash to prevent injuries from this equipment?

Monday, June 10, 2013

A few notes about OSHA requirements:

  1. If you are using compressed air for cleaning purposes, the P.S.I. must be less than 30 to be OSHA compliant.
  2. Eye wash stations - each area in the wash where employees are exposed to injurious corrosive materials must have suitable facilities for drenching or flushing of eyes or body parts available.  To comply install an eye wash station and shower.  Also keep in mind that OSHA requires 15 minutes of continuous water to meet their guidelines.
  3. Circuit breakers must be marked to indicate their purpose.
  4. Employers must develop and implement lock out procedures for employees that are repairing, servicing and performing maintenance on the car washing machinery. This means that locks, tags, chains, wedges, key blocks, adapter pins, self locking fasteners or any other hardware needed for isolating, securing or locking machines or equipment from their energy sources must be provided by the employer .
OSHA Reminder - By December 2013 all employees must be trained on the new safety data sheets.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carwash Driving Tips

It’s time to remind everyone that customers and employees face a huge risk every day from cars at and around the wash. The following are a few tips that may help mitigate the chances that someone will be injured or worst, killed!

Driver Training 101
Assign Driver Safety Manager
·         Have written Safety Procedures
·         Provide a Designated Driver Job Description
·         Routine Onsite Designated Driver Training
·         Regular Driver Safety Meetings
·         Exterior Wash Customer Driving Safety
·         Regular updates on vehicle technological changes 
Exterior wash customer driving Safety
Keep drying areas left or right of tunnel exit
Visual directional signage is VERY IMPORTANT!
Utilize whenever possible:
·         Stop & Go Lights
·         Directional Arrow
·         Signage directing customer’s to apply BRAKE before shifting and exiting the tunnel
·         Traffic Barriers
·         Train employees on how to use hand signals for guiding vehicles on the conveyor & pointing to instructional signage
·         Employee guiding cars on conveyor should wear reflective gloves
·         Employees walking on the property should  wear reflective vests
(this is particularly important at an express exterior model)
Full Serve Conveyor Exit area Safety
·         Keep towel drying areas left or right of tunnel exit
·         Establish designated pedestrian waiting areas
·         Establish safe pedestrian patterns 

Utilize the following:
·         Cones
·         Barriers
·         Bollards
·         Sand Barrels
·         Directional signage
·         Caution signs for pedestrian traffic
Moral of the Story
Driving at most washes is hazardous to employees and customers. Where there are vehicles, people walking, and locations that often have a tight turning radius, anything can happen!
Be Prepared.
Washing safely means bigger profits, healthy employees and happy customers! 
Email us what you’re doing or visit us
 at the car wash show in Vegas and tell us in person!!
We’re greeting everyone at booth 443.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Don’t be a Distracted Driver

The story goes: a customer is in the tunnel when he gets a phone call on his cell. In the next few minutes he is racing through the wash damaging equipment as he drives off. Thanks to surveillance, he is apprehended later that day. He explains that his girlfriend and he had a huge fight and he just lost it!

Many lives are lost each year due to cell phone use and texting on the highways. But, many claims are beginning to happen at car washes as well. They occur to employees and customers alike and will continue to escalate unless operators/managers establish some policies to minimize this risk.

Here’s a few ideas:


• Insist on a no cell phone use policy while at the wash. This should include all functions of the phone. Make sure there is clear enforcement and a penalty when this is ignored.

• Make sure that the use of MP3 or other music devices is also prohibited. These can also distract workers while driving or directing traffic at the wash.

• Be sure you inform all employees to advise their friends and family of the limitation of cell phone use on the job. Limit messages for any calls to an employee to emergency calls only.

• Be sure to include safety training that advises all employees exactly what the rules are and exactly what the penalties are for any violations.

• Eating and drinking can be a distraction as well. Be sure that employees are not handling either while they are working. They need to be focused on the vehicles on the property.


• Use signage before entering the tunnel or bay alerting them to the risks associated with texting or cell phone use. Their vehicle is not the same as being stopped or pulled over in a stationary position.

• Keep the drivers focused on directions. One operator uses a florescent glove for the employee to use on the hand that directs them onto the conveyor. Another uses hand signals and points to the signs to keep the drivers engaged.

What’s working at your wash? I would love to hear more ideas!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Help Emergency Responders Help You!

A fire occurs at the wash or an employee’s foot is caught in the conveyor, is your wash ready for these potential emergencies? Just as importantly, is the fire department or the EMS department ready? These are two questions that each operator must answer before the disaster strikes.

Let’s take a look at some of the key factors that should be considered in order to establish a plan of action to fulfill this obligation.

The emergency responders can be more effective when the car wash owners establish a pro-active plan for their facility including some of the elements in the following checklist:
  • All updated MSDS records should be on file with the Fire and EMS departments. This will provide them with the list of chemicals that they may be exposed to and allow them to establish a plan of action prior to an emergency.
  • Car wash owners also need to be sure that updated chemical placards are visibly mounted on the outside of the doors where chemicals are stored.
  • Doors should be labeled so they can be quickly and easily be identified from the outside. Not all emergencies occur while people are available to ask questions.
  • All entrances and exits need to be kept free of any debris or storage.
  • A building diagram would be helpful to file with the emergency responders as well.
  • The owners and managers contact information should be made available to the emergency responders as well.
  • Be sure to provide the utility shut off information including the main gas line if applicable.
  • Notify the emergency responders of any heavy security doors or specialty locks that may impede their ability to enter the building.
  • Advise where the emergency switches are and the power shut offs.

The car wash owners should also be sure to pay attention to the following regarding some of the things they can do to be proactive as well:

  • Post the emergency phone numbers in a conspicuous area of the wash.
  • Establish a containment program in the event of a chemical spill.
  • Be sure your medical emergency kit is updated and in an accessible area of the wash.
  • Eye wash stations should be working and free of debris.
  • Ensure a lock out kit is in place.
  • Train employees by holding a practice drill at least twice a year.

I would also encourage wash owners to call their local responders and invite them in for a tour to see where things are stored, power shut offs are located etc.

You can’t put a price on pre-planning, but taking these simple steps might be the mitigating difference in saving your property from fire or other disaster and just maybe save a life.

Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Car Wash Industry Announcement

Car Wash safety 101 is thrilled to announce a revolutionary approach to provide a variety of safety products and programs designed for the car wash industry! This exclusive undertaking is the result of a partnership with McNeil and Company, Inc, a leading national program risk management and insurance provider. With the combined power of my 18 years of car wash experience and their program expertise we are proud to present the following:

• Car Wash Safety Blog

• Car Wash E-Learning for OSHA

• Car Wash E-Learning for General Safety

• Car Wash Safety Webinars

• Car Wash Safety and Claims Committee

• Car Wash Safety Survey

• Car Wash Claims Management forms

• Car Wash Loss Prevention forms

• Car Wash OSHA compliance tools

We hope you like our new blog design and will be pleased to know that I will be posting more often.

Over the past several years I have discovered a large void in the safety plans available for many operators. Our intent is to fill that space with the resources necessary to maintain a safe environment for your employees as well as your customers.

My sincere hope is that you will join me in embracing this new opportunity. Not only will it help save you money due to fewer claims, but will help you reach new levels in your service!