Auto Repair Shop Safety Tips
Today we’re going to talk about auto repair shop safety tips and risk control.
These tips can apply to a body shop, auto repair garage, and really any automotive-related shop or garage.
Safety is more than just an insurance issue – having a safe operation and controlling risk has a lot to do with your reputation and long-term sustainability.
So, when it’s viewed through that lens, rather than just a mandate or something your insurance company wants you to do, I think is a better perspective.
Okay, shop safety and risk control, let’s take this from 4 perspectives
First Auto Repair Shop Safety: Operational and customer safety, employee safety, security & crime, and lastly property protection.
Let’s first acknowledge that automotive shops can be potentially dangerous operations. Hot work, flying debris, autos on lifts, noxious fumes, etc. all can be harmful to customers who may not understand or realize the risks. So here are a few tips regarding customer safety and operational safety
- Keep customers out of your shop by posting proper signage instructing them that shop areas are restricted and hazardous and to please wait in designated waiting areas.
- If a customer must enter the shop to inspect a vehicle, temporarily pause all operations that may pose the potential for injury, and have an employee accompany the customer to their vehicle, pointing out hazardous areas to avoid – such as under vehicles hoisted by lifts.
- To that end, floor markings that outline hydraulic lift paths will help keep customers away from hazardous areas.
- Parking lots and areas around your shop should be in good condition and free from potholes and obvious hazards. In northern areas, good practices around snow and ice removal are important.
The second area is safeguarding employees from shop hazards
such as flammable materials, flying debris, and such is vital to preventing workplace injuries and illnesses. Some of the key issues to address include:
- Carbon monoxide buildup and venting.
- PPE or personal protective equipment – safety glasses or goggles, gloves, etc. should be available at all times and encouraged. Proper training and instruction should also be conducted on the use of PPE on a regular basis so employees have an understanding of the importance as well as the limitations of PPE.
- Safety training is a must for new hires as well as reinforcing good safety practices for experienced employees on a regular basis. If you don’t have a written safety program, we can assist you with the development of one.
- Below ground level inspection pits often are a source of falls in garages, so safety netting or guardrails should be deployed to avoid these hazards.
- Electrical tools, cords, and other equipment should be inspected on a regular basis and kept in good working order. Replace or repair damaged tools as needed.
- Make sure all safety guards on all applicable machinery and equipment are in good working order as well and train employees on how to recognize if a guard is missing and prohibit guard removal.
- Finally, all hydraulic lifts should go through routine inspections and maintenance programs to assure they are in good working order.
The third area of risk control in an automotive shop is security and crime prevention.
Because garages contain expensive tools and customers’ vehicles they are often targets of theft and vandalism. Here are some tips to consider:
- Install lighting and security cameras in and around your property, with a particular focus on where you store customers’ vehicles. Signs “announcing” the presence of security cameras are a good deterrent to thieves and vandals.
- In addition to lights and cameras, it is recommended that vehicles are parked in a fenced and locked area at night.
- If your shop accepts cash and checks be sure to deposit them prior to closing and if that’s not possible lock them away in a safe after hours.
- Protect the keys to customers’ vehicles by locking them after hours in a lockbox or safe.
- At the end of the day, a closing protocol or checklist should be established and followed for locking all doors, windows, gates, and making sure security devices are turned on and working. This procedure can be executed by the owner or an employee in the owner’s absence.
Final auto repair shop safety area is property damage risk control.
Fire is a major threat to automotive shops due to the presence of flammables.
Proper prevention protocols will help minimize the risk from a fire which can be devastating, not only to your property, but your customers’ vehicles, but also impacts your income and cash flow. Here are our suggestions for limiting property damage risks.
- Designate areas where hot work tasks are performed. These are welding, torch cutting, and grinding. These areas must be free from any combustible or flammable materials.
- Have a written hot work program that is used in training and retaining employees. Need help here, let me know. We’ve got several resources here to help.
- Implement a tire storage system and dispose of all used tires in a timely manner to avoid excessive buildup of used tires.
- Housekeeping – one of the biggest problem risk areas we see is maintaining good housekeeping practices which include avoiding the accumulation of clutter or trash that is often the source of fires. Have a shop objective of maintaining a clean and organized shop.
- Along with housekeeping is the safe disposal of oily rags in appropriate containers to avoid fire risk.
- Install and maintain fire extinguishers that are appropriate for auto repair shops, and train employees on how to deploy an extinguisher in an emergency. Often your extinguisher servicing company can help train employees here.
That’s a quick rundown on the most common risk issues we see in the automotive repair shop business, but it’s certainly not all of them.
If you have a particular risk issue you’re struggling with, let me know.
We have an extensive risk management library with resources I’d be happy to share with you.