By: Michael Allen, Executive Manager, VADA Group Self-Insurance Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, 804-545-3012
On occasion, we are asked why our safety recommendations exceed OSHA standards, which are the guidelines for recommendations made by commercial safety & compliance companies. The reason is that our guidance serves a different purpose than does theirs. These companies are focused on compliance and are very good at keeping your dealership OSHA and EPA compliant and helping you avoid fines and legal action. VADA GSIA’s focus is much broader.
VADA GSIA certainly wants to help you avoid OSHA violations and fines, but our true focus is on protecting your employees, minimizing the extent of injuries when incidents do happen, and minimizing the impact of claims on your premiums.
A good example is eyewash stations. According to OSHA Standard Interpretation 1910.151 from June 1, 2009, OSHA requires emergency eyewash stations to be readily available to employees dealing with “injurious corrosive chemicals and severe irritants.” Generally, in a service department, this is interpreted by OSHA standards to be for employees who are recharging or filling batteries (i.e.-battery acid exposure).
However, there are other dangerous chemicals in dealerships which are not corrosive to eyes or skin and we strongly recommend dealerships follow recommendations of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and have eyewash stations located within 50 feet, or 10 seconds distance time, of any service technician or employee servicing, repairing or detailing vehicles. Also, employees should not have to enter another room to access a station, so some facilities require multiple stations based on floor plan and use of space/chemicals. It should be noted that, in that same Standard Interpretation on eye stations, OSHA recommends following the ANSI standard, even though it doesn’t have the force of a regulation under the OSHA Act.
Service departments and body shops are filled with chemicals which present a danger to employees’ vision including gasoline, diesel fuel, oils and lubricants, aggressive cleaning and degreasing products, gases such as freon, and even particulates like rust and dirt. Being able to quickly clean eye may mean the difference between irritation and blindness.
Recommendations from VADA GSIA and our Risk Consultants will often exceed those of compliance companies hired by dealership. These companies provide valuable services and make great recommendations. But VADA GSIA has a much broader interest in your workplace.