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Your Auto Shop Safety Partner
Required element of OSHA’s Respirator Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134).
Required element of OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200).
Auto Body Shops – Customer Access Policy
Purpose- The purpose of this policy is to establish how will you protect your customers from the hazards present in the auto shop and establish when it is appropriate for customers to go outside the designated waiting area and into the shop to view their vehicles and discuss repairs. This policy is in place to reduce the exposure of customers to workplace risks, thus lessening the liability of the shop and protecting it against potential lawsuits.
This policy establishes employer and employee responsibilities for keeping customers safe and gives each a set of guidelines on how to achieve this goal.
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This policy applies to all employees.
Before allowing a customer to enter the shop, the employee must:
- Determine that the customer’s presence outside the designated waiting room is absolutely essential to the proper repair of his or her vehicle.
- Be sure the shop is clean and tidy, especially along paths where the customer will be walking.
- Clean all oil, grease and water to prevent trips and slips.
- Make sure the areas of the shop where the customer visits are properly ventilated and free of any harmful fumes.
- Ask that the customer wear eye protection and any other personal protective equipment deemed necessary while on the shop floor.
- Ask that the customer keep food and drinks in the designated waiting area while on the shop floor so it does not get contaminated by potentially harmful dust.
During the customer’s visit to the shop floor, the employee will:
- Stay with the customer the entire visit, escorting him or her out of and back into the designated waiting area.
- Keep the customer’s time on the shop floor to an absolute minimum, conducting only the necessary business and then returning to the waiting area for further discussion.
- Take the customer by the safest route possible to view his or her vehicle. Do not lead the customer under or through dangerous or precarious areas of the shop.
To ensure the health and safety of all employees as well as customers who may enter the shop, the employer will:
- Check frame straightening machines and hydraulic pressure hoses regularly for signs of excessive wear
- Make sure the shop is properly ventilated, especially in areas where harsh, hazardous chemicals are being used and in areas where customers might stand.
- Adhere to all OSHA guidelines and regulations, including the need for a written hazard communication plan.
- Enforce the above employee guidelines to ensure that customers are not being unnecessarily exposed to hazards and that the business does not assume avoidable risks.
- Make sure all employees are aware of the guidelines on allowing customers onto the shop floor.
Auto Body Shops: Think Twice Before Allowing Customers in the Garage
As an auto body shop employee, you already know what kinds of risks are associated with your job. Auto body shops present a variety of hazards, including the use of dangerous chemicals, exposure to paint fumes, exposure to sanding dust, metal fumes from welding and cutting, hearing damage from excessive noise, the potential for oil or grease spills leading to slips and falls, flying debris, electrical exposures and the general peril of working with large, heavy machinery.
Though you are well aware of these dangers and take several preventative measures to avoid workplace accidents, customers visiting your garage or shop to look at their cars and discuss repairs probably do not fully understand the potential risks. Because customers are not equipped with training or proper personal protective equipment and because you may be liable for any injuries incurred by the customer while in the shop, it is important to take proper measures to keep them safe.
Take the Safe Route
Your best bet for keeping customers free from injury and harm is to keep them in the designated waiting areas and away from the garage altogether. It is recommended that you make sure signs indicate employee-only zones to warn customers of potential hazards in entering the shop floor.
A good rule of thumb is to take customers into the garage only when it is absolutely vital to completing your job. Remember that if it turns out your company is liable for customers’ injuries while inside the garage, you might be better off discussing repairs away from potential auto shop hazards in the long run.
Factors to Consider
If you decide that taking a customer back into the shop and away from the designated waiting areas is the only feasible option, here are some things to consider to protect him or her from harm:
- Be sure the shop is clean and orderly. Clean up all oil, grease and water spills promptly, and remove all tools or other objects left in walking paths. Make sure there are no exposed sharp edges around the shop where visiting customers could cut themselves.
- Check frame straightening machines and hydraulic pressure hoses regularly for signs of excessive wear to prevent the possibility of chain snapping.
- Make sure the areas of the shop where the customer visits are properly ventilated and free of any harmful fumes.
- Ask that the customer keep any food or drinks in the designated waiting area, as any dust from the shop could potentially contaminate these items and be accidentally ingested.
Breathing Easy in Paint Mixing Rooms in Auto Refinishing Shops
Auto refinishers use many potentially harmful chemicals when painting vehicles and auto parts. In particular, auto shops use solvents, isocyanates, pigments and other additives in paints and coatings that can present serious risks to your employee’s health and the environment as well. In conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) Program, the agency launched the Auto Refinish Project to provide health and safety recommendations for reducing employee injuries and illnesses in auto body shops around the U.S.
This program was created partially because workers tend to overlook their safety when mixing paint and during cleanup tasks. In fact, many workers perform paint mixing and cleanup duties in small, enclosed rooms with little or no ventilation or with ventilation that works improperly. This often increases their exposure to dangerous chemicals. However, a properly installed ventilation system will remove harmful vapors from the air and will provide a healthy working environment for employees.
TYPES OF VENTILATION SYSTEMS
General Exhaust Systems:
- Typically consist of an exhaust fan, mounted in a ceiling or wall that pulls air out of the workroom and discharges it outdoors.
- Replacement air is brought into the work area by either natural means (windows or vents) or by a more sophisticated setup that includes a separate make-up air fan, duct work and air registers that provide clean air to the work space.
- Systems are not recommended as the sole source of ventilation when hazardous vapors are present because they do not immediately remove vapors from the work space.
Local Exhaust Ventilation Systems:
- Remove chemicals and other contaminants at their source.
- Systems are recommended for controlling hazardous vapors because they remove vapors before workers are exposed to them.
- Systems consist of the following: a hood installed close to where the work is performed to capture vapors, ductwork to transport vapors from the hood to the outdoors and a fan located downstream of the hood to draw air away from the work area.
The most effective means of ventilating your paint mixing room is to use both local and general exhaust ventilation systems together. A local exhaust system installed at the work bench as close to the mixing operation as possible will capture most hazardous vapors before they can escape into the air. General ventilation systems, on the other hand, for rooms with floor level exhaust vents, will remove low-lying vapors that are not captured by the local exhaust system or are generated from other sources of vapor in the room.
Make Wise Decisions
An improperly designed system will do little to improve your current workplace conditions and will not protect your workers from hazards. For this very reason, it is important to make sure your system is designed and installed by properly trained individuals, such as a qualified ventilation contractor or an industrial hygienist. As an alternative, prefabricated paint mixing rooms are currently on the market and typically provide spill protection, explosion-proof electrical installation and general ventilation.
Regardless of what type of ventilation system that you choose, keep in mind that vapors produced in paint mixing rooms are extremely flammable and can produce explosive environments. For this reason, all electrical equipment that you place or install in this room (including ventilation fans, wiring and switches) must be specifically designed and approved for use in explosive atmospheres. Ventilation equipment manufacturers should also be able to tell you what types of environments their equipment can be used in properly. Beyond that, it is wise to contact your local Fire Marshall to learn more about applicable electrical requirements.
Keeping your workers safe is not only your obligation, it is the law. Visit www.epa.gov/dfe/projects/auto for more information on how you can protect your auto body workers from the occupational hazards they encounter each and every day.
SPRAY PAINTING HAZARDS
Safety Recommendations for Employers
Spray painting in the auto body industry refers to the process by which liquid coating is converted into mist or aerosol to apply a coating onto a surface or object. Workers performing this task are at risk of several occupational dangers such as the exposure to hazardous substances contained in paints, fire, explosions, excess noise from machinery and manual handling dangers. Workers can be exposed to paint via vapor inhalation, injection and substance contact with the skin. Consequently, short- and long-term illnesses may result.
- Hazardous Substances
- Exposure due to poor ventilation, faulty equipment, poorly designed spray zones or use in a confined space.
- Short-term effects: nausea, skin irritation and rashes.
- Long-term effects: occupational asthma, lung cancer and sensitization (developing an allergy to the paint).
- Fire and Explosion
- Mists containing flammable substances can ignite from heat sources such as sparks from electronic equipment or hot surfaces.
- Injuries: shocks, burns, loss of consciousness and death.
- Worker exposure to electrical currents when undertaking wet work.
- Injuries: shocks, burns, loss of consciousness and death.
- Plant Hazards
- Ventilation malfunctions and electrical shocks causing injuries.
- Injuries: respiratory disease, burns and electrocution.
- Manual Handling
- Holding heavy spray painting equipment for an extended period of time, awkward twisting or bending, moving items being sprayed and handling large paint drums can cause injuries.
- Injuries: sprains, strains and fractures.
- Noise from pumps, motors and air compressors.
- Injuries: hearing loss and fatigue.
To assess the potential for danger in your workplace, inspect your establishment for hazards such as solvents, two-pack paints, resins and ignition sources; determine which employees may be in danger based on their job duties and eliminate and control hazards by making the necessary changes. Use the following checklist to protect the health and safety of your employees:
Supplied Air Respirators: Useful Options for Auto Refinishers
To stay healthy on the job, painters should wear a supplied-air respirator when spraying paints containing highly toxic chemicals. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that painters should wear supplied-air respirators when spraying isocyanate-containing paints to ensure their health and safety. Although some painters complain that conventional supplied-air respirators lack comfort, visibility or convenience, newer models succeed in protecting workers and are also user-friendly.
TYPES OF RESPIRATORS
Loose-Fitting Hood Supplied-Air Respirators
- Respirators are lightweight, low maintenance (most are equipped with disposable visor covers) and offer a wide field of vision.
- Painters do not need a fit test to use the hood model and can have a beard and wear glasses.
- Provide the greatest cooling effect for workers.
Tight-Fitting Full Face-Piece Respirators
- Typically provide the highest level of protection of all supplied-air respirators.
- Many designs have the breathing tube and air line attach in back, away from the work zone. This helps prevent the air line from accidentally ruining the paint job.
- Painters need a fit test for this unit and cannot have a beard or other facial hair to ensure a tight seal. Eyeglass mounts are available on most models.
Loose-Fitting Face-Piece Respirators
- Respirator has a flip-up visor, which allows the painter to get a better view of the finish without removing the unit.
- Models do not require fit testing and can accommodate eyeglasses and moderate facial hair.
- Painters must remember to lift the visor only after the ventilation system has exhausted all of the paint overspray from the spray booth.
Considerations for Supplied-Air Respirators
Shop owners must decide what type of breathing air system will work best for their facility and their supplied-air respirators. There are two common options:
In-Line Air Filtration Units
- Units convert your shop’s existing high-pressure compressed air to clean, breathable air.
- Use replaceable filters to remove contaminants from the compressed air stream.
- To meet the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requirements for breathing air, the filtration units should be equipped with a carbon monoxide monitor.
- Filters need periodic changes, which increase their cost over time.
- Some systems come equipped with air-conditioned or heated air features.
Low-Pressure Ambient Air Pumps
- Differ from air filtration units in that they are electronically driven, oil-free compressors and are usually placed in locations with fresh air away from work areas.
- Typically do not require filters (other than a small inlet filter) or high-temperature alarms, if installed in a contaminant-free area.
- System can be used when the shop’s air compressor lacks the capability to feed equipment and respirators.
OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard (29 CFR 1910.134) requires that employers select only National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-certified respirators. This OSHA standard further states that employers may not modify the respirator system or change and mix components. To meet NIOSH certification, all respirator systems must be complete and properly assembled.
For more information on supplied-air respirators, contact NIOSH at 1-800-35-NIOSH, visit www.cdc.gov/niosh or contact the OSHA office in your area via www.osha.gov.
Garage Keepers Liability Coverage
Companies in the business of storing customer vehicles need to be protected. Picture this scenario: you are a tow truck driver who is called to tow a car in the middle of the night. Since the mechanic’s garage is closed at this time, you must store the car in your shop for the night. A few hours later, someone breaks into your shop and vandalizes the customer’s vehicle.
Garage Keepers Liability coverage is designed to offer protection for business owners who offer towing services or operate service stations, similar to the scenario described above. This coverage protects customer vehicles while they are kept at the business location for parking, storage or to perform maintenance or services in the event of fire, theft, vandalism, explosion or lightning. There are two types of Garage Keepers Liability coverage that are available:
- Direct Primary Coverage – Coverage for a business, even if the loss is not the business’s fault nor are they legally liable.
- Excess Coverage – Additional coverage over the limit of coverage that the vehicle owner/customer has from his/her own insurance company. This will automatically pay if the customer does not have Automobile Insurance.
Garage Keepers Liability Coverage is Designed for:
- Automotive and motorcycle dealers
- Service stations
- Restaurants, hotels and special event operations with valet parking
- Private parking lots and structures and airport parking lots
- Car washes
- Other businesses that accept custody or control of vehicles belonging to others for a fee
Limits and Deductibles
- Determine coverage limits by considering the average value of vehicles in your care multiplied by the average number of vehicles in your care at any given time. For instance, if the average value of your customers’ vehicles is $30,000 and you tend to have 10 vehicles on hand, then you should select a limit of $300,000.
- You must select a per-vehicle deductible (generally $500) that is to be paid by you in case of a damaging incident. Then, the insurer covers the remaining amount, up to your limits.
- Contractual obligations
- Theft by the insured
- Defective parts or faulty work
- Loss to sound reproducing equipment, unless it is permanently installed
- Loss of CDs and tapes
- Loss to sound receiving equipment (CBs, mobile radios and telephones), unless it is installed in the dash or console
- Radar detection equipment
We understand that unfavorable incidents can occur. Garage Keepers Insurance assures that you are adequately protected. Contact us today for more details.
This Coverage Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.
Spray Painting Safety in the Body Shop
Spray painting is a great way to protect and enhance parts, products and vehicles. Plus, this technique allows you to cover large areas with even coats of primer, paint, sealers and other coatings. Despite this, you must recognize and guard against potential hazards while doing spray painting tasks on the job.
Why is protection necessary? Many paints, coatings, catalysts, sealers, hardeners and solvents contain hazardous chemicals that you can become exposed to during mixing, spraying, grinding and sanding tasks. In addition, surface preparation jobs and many cleanup tasks can pose dangers if you do not handle them properly.
Since you can inhale chemical vapors when spraying, absorb chemicals in your skin or inject chemicals with high pressure spray painting equipment, you must be fully aware of what you are doing to avoid unnecessary exposure. It is also wise to look out for symptoms of overexposure, including: nausea, rash, asthma, lung cancer and sensitization (becoming allergic to the paint).
Before beginning a new task, consult the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the products used and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect against hazards.
- Use a spray booth to guard against spray paint vapors and debris within your breathing zone. Since many coatings contain flammable substances that are aerosolized when sprayed with powered equipment, these vapors can build up and create an explosion danger. A spray booth can provide maximum protection against these hazards, if it is regularly maintained and cleaned.
- Wear hearing protection when working with air powered tools. Also wear safety glasses and a dust mask or respirator to protect against dust particles that form when using grinding and sanding equipment.
- Since you may have to hold full paint pots while spraying, you must keep ergonomics in mind while on the job. Use balanced spray guns that fit in your hand or use a hoist and dolly to move materials instead of holding them. This will reduce your risk of accidents and injuries. Also, take frequent, short breaks throughout the workday to stretch to avoid unnecessary strains and sprains.
Keeping safety in mind when working in and around spray painting operations will help you avoid dangerous hazards and keep you injury-free on the job.
In the body shop, the paint mixing room is a more dangerous place than you might expect because of all the toxic chemicals in the paints you are using. To avoid injuries and illnesses on the job, practice the following safety precautions.
Put a Lid On It!
Not only is an open container of paint or solvent a waste of money, it also contaminates the air. By putting a lid on it, you will keep harmful vapors out of the clean air that you and your coworkers breathe in. You will also save materials by not allowing expensive paints and coatings to evaporate or to become contaminated by air exposure.
Wear a Respirator
Vapor-generating materials and equipment permeate most paint mixing rooms. Despite this, wearing a respirator will decrease the amount of harmful vapors you breathe in from paints and solvents. When working in the mixing room, always wear an air-purifying respirator with an organic vapor cartridge. Some other things to consider:
- Make sure the respirator forms a tight seal on your face. You should also be clean-shaven where the mask touches your face for optimal protection.
- Change the cartridge on a regular basis, as outlined by the manufacturer.
Your skin and eyes also need protection from hazardous paint materials. Many chemicals in coatings and solvents are not only strong irritants, they can also pass through your skin and can damage your internal organs. To avoid unnecessary problems, be aware of the variety of chemicals that you use in the mixing room and wear chemical-resistant gloves and a paint suit that offers adequate protection.
Some other things to consider:
- Wear nitrile or butyl rubber gloves (not latex) to protect your skin from chemicals.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding when to change your gloves to ensure that you are receiving optimal protection against chemicals. Also, if you notice a tear or puncture in your gloves, discard them right away.
- Wear a full face-piece respirator to protect your eyes. If you are wearing a half-mask respirator, goggles or a face shield will provide adequate eye protection as well.
Shops that reduce waste do something good for the environment and their revenue. Therefore, mix only the amount of paints and coatings that you need. Also, store and reuse left-over primers and basecoats to avoid unnecessary waste.