Walk into any automobile repair shop in Cincinnati — you can practically smell the danger. Chemicals, heavy equipment, electric tools all have their inherent hazards. How are auto garages regulated? What about these regulations makes them safe? And how can you tell walking into a garage that place isn’t up to code — and likely delivering shoddy service to boot?
Workplace standards for automotive garages were first established by the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Act. These rules cover not only safety requirements but what workers need to know when it comes to their rights. Regulations are continually updated to match modern technology and safety demands.
Failure to comply is punishable by fines and sometimes temporary to permanent closure. The most common reason a shop is shut down by OSHA is failing to provide proper safety equipment to workers. Even not having enough fire extinguishers is a violation. Auto shops are required to have established written plans and safety equipment on site to deal with hazards and workplace emergencies. Safety equipment ranges from goggles to ear protection to chemical washes.
Employees Right to Know
Another way an auto garage can violate OSHA regulations is to not post required “Right to Know” educational notices. This includes the potential hazards of the chemicals they work with, detailed labeling of all chemicals, and detailed inventory lists. Garages must also detail how they comply with OSHA Right to Know requirements.
Why It’s Important
Complying with OSHA regulations is of course important for safety of the mechanics who work at the garage. But it’s also a reflection of the quality of work being performed and whether you can trust the auto repair that’s being performed.
A hazardous environment isn’t professional. If a shop fails to comply over a regulation that not only makes their mechanics safer but could also permanently put them out of business, what else are they missing? Are they overlooking a brake line on a Porsche you’re about to let loose on in the fast lane? Are they forgetting about a crucial repair? Are they overcharging you for an unneeded repair when a simpler approach might work?
That’s why it’s important to take a peek at the shop (likely from the waiting room. If they let you in the work area, they’re violating an OSHA regulation). Is the place clean and organized? Are workers performing their jobs with the proper safety equipment?
It matters — not only to the safety of the workers, but ultimately to the quality of the car repair and the safety of the car when you drive it.