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Avoid costly fines by creating a safer workplace

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 13:07
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I was asked recently what the penalty from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be for a shop using an illegal air blower. After checking with an OSHA office in California, I discovered the offending shop could get a fine of up to $7,000.


Your shop's first aid kit must be OSHA approved and must fit the needs of your shop based on its size and the work performed there. (Image / Certified First Aid of Texas)
 

You may think OSHA would only slap such a high-dollar penalty on a shop that was a repeat offender or had other serious problems. Think again.

With many states facing budget shortfalls and other serious economic problems, administrative agencies, more than ever, are looking into fines as revenue sources. There is plenty of evidence in California to support this theory. Getting caught using a cell phone while driving for a first-time offender can net a $148 fine in California. Parking in a handicap zone is a $976 fine for the first offense and $1,876 for a second offense. Motorists can pay $436 for failing to stop at a stop sign.


Make sure your shop has the specified number of fire extinguishers. Keep them accessible and unblocked, and keep someone on staff to ensure they are properly charged and tagged. (Image / Amerex)

If your shop isn't meeting OSHA compliance, you could be a prime target for some very expensive penalties. Of course, you shouldn't be looking at OSHA compliance alone as a monetary issue. Being compliant translates into maintaining a safe, organized workplace that's also more productive.


Extension cords that are damaged are serious safety violations. Use only cords that are in good shape and never attempt to repair them with electrical tape. (Image / Power Guardian)

I have been taking a 40-hour online OSHA course and have been checking for violations in body shops as I conduct I-CAR training on site. What I have seen is, in some cases, unbelievable, but fixable. Let's take a look at some of the more common violations in the body shop.


All storage containers need to be properly labeled (Image / Fremouw Environmental Services)

Checklists

Keep in mind that meeting OSHA compliance is an everyday endeavor. It's something you have to work for, and being compliant isn't an easy chore, nor is it exceptionally difficult.

In fact, many of the most common OSHA violations are also obvious safety guidelines and plain-old common sense. Unfortunately, too many owners, managers and others simply walk by these violations every day and do nothing about them, thereby putting themselves, their employees and their businesses at risk.

I want to focus on basics. Once you tackle these potential problems, you'll be better able to handle the more difficult standards OSHA sets.

Run through the following lists, and make sure your shop is OSHA compliant in these areas.

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