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Tips to Keep your Auto Service Business Safer

From an insurance perspective, automotive mechanical repair shops have a variety exposures. The first is to the property. The second is liability, most notably injuries your customers could sustain while at your business. The third is workers’ compensation or injuries to your employees. And finally, there are exposures caused by products.

West Bend Mutual Insurance Company shares these suggestions for protecting your property, customers, and employees:

Property

Primary property exposures include gasoline storage, flammable liquids, oily rags, and parts-washing fluid. To try to prevent losses caused by these exposures, here are some suggestions:

  • “No Smoking” signs should be posted throughout the building.
  • Oily rags can spontaneously combust so they must be stored in airtight, self-closing metal cans that starve off oxygen.
  • Welding and torch work should only be done as needed and only after determining there are no flammables or combustibles in the immediate area.
  • When using parts-washing fluids, use a Stoddard solvent held within a designated wash tank with a self-closing lid connected to a fusible link.
  • Gasoline should NEVER be used to clean any type of part.

General Liability

The main exposure is unsupervised customers in the shop area. Typical exposures to customers include damage to clothing, as well as slips and falls or other injuries.

  • Customers should wear personal protective equipment if they’re going into the shop area.
  • Management should escort the customer into the shop to show what repairs are needed.
  • Afterward, the customer should return to the lounge area to wait for repairs to be completed.
  • Customers should never be unsupervised within the mechanical repair areas.

Workers’ Compensation

Injuries are routinely caused by lifting, burns, carbon monoxide, and oil spills.

  • Hernias and back injuries can be prevented by using proper lifting equipment and equipment stand tools.
  • Proper personal protective equipment can protect against burns from welding or torch work.
  • The carbon monoxide exposure is more prevalent during winter months when doors are closed; consequently flexible exhaust hoses should be slipped over exhaust pipes so fumes are routed outside. This helps prevent a carbon monoxide buildup inside.
  • An oil slick or grease spot could cause a slip or trip. Promptly cleaning up these spills and spots, as well as using sand or an oil absorbent, will reduce these loss potentials.

Product Liability

  • Only first-rate and OEM-quality parts should be used in part replacement.
  • Faulty installation of aftermarket parts is a huge concern. Automotive mechanics should hold ASE designations with a least one master certified mechanic on staff to oversee all repairs.
  • Mechanics should only work in areas in which they’ve been properly trained. The master mechanic should do a final inspection and test drive the customer’s vehicle.

©2014 West Bend Mutual Insurance Company

1900 South 18th Ave., West Bend, WI 53095

P: 262-334-5571
F: 262-334-9109

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