You’ve heard it a million times: From your mom, from your kindergarten teacher and even from the little guy on wet floor signs. But when it comes to operating a car wash, safety is sometimes treated as an extra or an afterthought.
It’s easy to put operational safety on the side when your main drive is keeping production high and costs low. Rubber mats and good posture may not pay the bills, but you’ll quickly find shrugging off safety can cost you dearly, not only in damage claims and higher insurance claims but also in damage to your reputation. In the worst cases, safety violations and other noncompliance issues can shut a site down for good.
All the little things you do to keep your site and employees safe will actually make you more productive, not less. Training, planning, and upkeep do wonders for reducing interruptions and keeping cars rolling through your tunnel.
A safe and profitable operation rests on four pillars:
- General Safety
- Mechanical Safety
- Chemical Safety
- Vehicle Safety
By building up each pillar, your car wash will stand head-and-shoulders above the rest.
General Safety: The Classics Never Go Out of Style
The penalties for violating or ignoring general safety policies can be severe, not to mention increasing your risk of incidents. At a minimum, you must comply with Occupational Health and Safety Association standards. There are way too many OSHA standards to list here, but this guide and OSHA’s employer page are great references. Note that if you have sites in states with their own OSHA laws, those standards override the federal ones.
If you ever want to double-check your site to keep from getting fined, OSHA offers free on-site consultations. You won’t be penalized for anything they find, and you may even qualify for a one-year exemption on your next inspection.
Mechanical Safety: Keeping Incidents on Lock
Your tunnel has a lot of large, moving parts. While each one delivers a fantastic wash for your customers, they are also a potential hazard for your team if you don’t take the right precautions.
Creating and enforcing policies to reduce risk is critical for preventing injury. One of the biggest things you can do is keep your team up-to-date with your site’s “lockout-tagout” procedures. Your LOTO process doesn’t just keep you kosher with the law; it protects the lives of your employees. Just having tags and locks isn’t enough. Train and refresh your team on your site’s LOTO and other equipment maintenance procedures on a regular basis.
The greater the distance you can place between your team and the active machinery in your tunnel, the better. This is one of the greatest benefits an automated, full tunnel anti-collision system like NoPileups.
Chemical Saftey: Knowing is Half the Battle
It takes a number of chemicals to make a car nice and shiny, but they pose another risk. Proper handling, usage and storage of hazardous chemicals is essential to employee safety.
Again, having clear procedures in place is key. Your employees should be familiar with every chemical you use and how it should be handled. If there’s a spill, contact with skin or eyes or any other mishap, every employee needs to be ready to act fast and appropriately.
Vehicle Saftey: Protect Your Customers and Their Cars
Vehicle safety may not be top of mind because of all of the other safety concerns you must address before a single customer rolls in. However, customer vehicles can do serious damage to your equipment and cause injury to employees and even other customers.
NoPileups adds another layer of safety. If a customer does something unexpected, like shifting out of neutral, NoPileups can prevent an accident that may otherwise cause damage and injury.
Always Remember: Safety First
Operating a safe car wash can feel daunting, but it’s worth it, and not just for the sake of profitability. A shining reputation is a point of pride you’ll feel every time a customer safely leaves your tunnel. Your employees will get more done knowing they work somewhere that takes their well-being seriously.
While these tips are only a small piece of keeping your sites incident-free, they go a long way in making sure your car wash is as safe as it is successful.