A national leader in specialized insurance, McNeil & Co. has issued chemical safety tips to help car wash owners and operators manage risk when working with chemicals. McNeil & Co.’s Car Wash Insurance Program has become the fastest-growing insurance option for car wash owners and operators, offering clients decades of industry experience and knowledge. Risk management is a key pillar of McNeil’s programs, and we hope to help all car wash owners better identify chemical hazards and understand how to mitigate the risks associated with them.
McNeil & Co.’s recommendations for reducing the risks associated with chemicals at the car wash include:
Car wash employees should wear appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) at all times.
- When exposed to corrosive chemicals, employees should wear medium to heavyweight neoprene, natural rubber viton or niterile gloves. McNeil & Co. highly recommends gauntlet gloves. Latex gloves should not be worn, as they will not provide adequate protection.
- Employees should wear acid-resistant aprons and waterproof, steel-toed boots to protect against accidental chemical spills and guard against unexpected injury to the feet from the weight of a container.
- Goggles or a full-face shield are recommended. Safety glasses are not acceptable since they do not protect chemicals from accidentally entering one’s eyes from the bottom or the top of the glasses.Understand the chemical exposure.
- Most chemicals will come with a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or a Safety Data Sheet (SDS), which includes vital information about the chemical risks and how to work safely around these substances. McNeil & Co. recommends storing these documents in a plastic sleeve attached to the hoses or chemical container so that they are readily accessible. In case of an emergency, they can be easily taken out to bring to the emergency facility to assist the medical personnel with instructions on proper treatment procedures. A binder should also be kept in a conspicuous area so employees have them available at all times.
- Chemical labels must be properly positioned so they are always visible for quick reference. McNeil recommends placing the label on the top of the container for easy viewing.
- Anyone designated to handle these substances should participate in a full chemical review with the manufacturer’s representative.
Safely store chemicals.
- The equipment room where chemicals are stored should be well ventilated, and containers should not be overstacked.
- Certain chemicals are not compatible and may combust when stored near each other. Car wash owners and operators should be aware of these chemicals and be sure to store them far away from each other.
- To prevent potential freezing, chemicals should be raised above the floor level.
Safely move chemicals.
- Chemicals at the car wash are often stored in 55 gallon drums, which can pose many hazards. These containers should be tightly closed to prevent spillage.
- When moving these heavy containers, McNeil & Co. recommends using drum trucks or pail trucks, which are better equipped to handle the weight than hand trucks. This will help prevent the containers from falling on someone and will also reduce the risk of back injuries.
- Car wash owners should work with the chemical’s manufacturer to determine the proper disposal procedure for each substance.
- Old and empty containers should be stored in a secure area to prevent them from being stolen or taken without permission. Some of these drums may pose a threat if they previously contained a corrosive substance. Under these circumstances, it is possible the car wash owner may be held responsible for any injuries that may occur as a result.
Have first aid ready.
- All facilities should have appropriate first aid kits available, an approved eye wash station and an emergency action plan.
- All eye wash stations should have a minimum of 15 minutes of continuous water flow to comply with OSHA requirements.
- Employees should avoid working with chemicals alone. Depending on the severity of the injury, it could be very difficult to take care of oneself and safely get medical assistance.
“Car wash owners, operators and employees work with numerous potentially hazardous chemicals on a daily basis,” said Mike Benmosche, Car Wash Program Specialist at McNeil & Co. “At McNeil & Co., we work to educate our clients about the risks associated with chemicals, prepare them for unusual circumstances and prevent catastrophe from happening.”
Find more information about our Car Wash Insurance Program here.
For more risk management information and resources, visit our Risk Management page here.