David O’Boyle wants car dealerships and other businesses to know something when he does inspections for the Occupational Safety and Health Admin.
“I’m on your side. I’m not the bad guy,” he says. Well, there are exceptions. Repeat or flagrant violators should look out – and get their wallets out because violations can run as high as $13,494 a day in some cases, such as failure to correct an unsafe situation forthwith.
O’Boyle (pictured, below left) is baffled by failures to do so, especially when it’s a “pretty simple fix.” For example, keeping oil slicks off the shop floor isn’t that tough.
O’Boyle, an authorized workplace safety instructor and auditor, is a co-presenter for a webinar – “When OSHA Knocks, Is Your Dealership Ready?” – put on by the Association of Dealership Compliance Officers.
He and Brian Boase, director-safety and compliance at Summit Automotive Partners, a consultancy, outline what prompts OSHA to stop in and how to handle it.
Reasons for an OSHA visit range from reported imminent dangers and a fatal or serious accident on the premises to complaints and an it’s-your-turn inspection.
Another reason: failure to reply to an OSHA correspondence. “If you don’t respond, that’s when I come a-calling,” says O’Boyle who is based in Tennessee.
He adds: “OSHA will not call and let you know they’re coming.”
Proactive measures dealerships can take include establishing a safety committee, Boase says.
“That shows involvement,” he says. “OSHA wants to see a safety commitment. They will look at (and for) training records and written programs. Those are important. If you don’t have a written program, they’ll smell blood.”
Inspectors “can sense if there is a good safety culture,” O’Boyle adds. “You know off the bat.”
If he gets positive vibes from that, he may forgo a full inspection of the premises. But some inspections are mandatory, such as annual ones for vehicle lifts in service bays. A hoist that fails an inspection is locked out.
OSHA tours center mainly on the service department. The checklist there includes sufficient ventilation in the paint shop if the dealership does collision repairs, slip and fall precautions, properly labeled chemical containers and safety guards on machinery.
But other departments also can undergo inspections, including unlikely areas. For example, Boase (pictured, left) recalls OSHA citing a dealership because one of its finance and insurance offices had file boxes hazardously stacked too high.
Safety pays in more ways than one, he says. “If you make a safer workplace, you’ll also be more profitable.”
Steve Finlay is a retired WardsAuto senior editor. He can be reached at Steven.Finlay1950@gmail.com.