Proper Use = Safety and Efficiency
Chemical products have been developed for specific uses and it is best to limit them to those uses. There have been a number of cases where someone has done serious damage to a customer's car by creatively using a product in an application for which it was not intended.
Operators should definitely not use any products that contain "Hydrofluoric Acid" or any of its salts such as "Ammonium Bifluoride". These products can be very effective, but are always dangerous. They can be deadly to employees and highly destructive to your equipment and concrete floors.
If you use powdered detergents, become familiar with their chemical hazards, as these products require considerably more handling. Be very careful when mixing powdered detergents that contain Sodium Hydroxide. This chemical generates a lot of heat when it dissolves. Also, the granules of Sodium Hydroxide can land on the skin and not be noticed until they absorb water from the skin and cause burns.
Be EXTREMELY CAREFUL when handling any “No-Freeze” products. These contain Methanol, which is very flammable. Keep these containers away from any source of sparks, heat or flames. DO NOT transfer these products into other containers as pumping can generate static electricity and produce sparks. Note: Methanol flames are almost invisible and problems can occur very quickly without any obvious signs.
Frequently check all chemical draw-tubes and check-valves to make sure they are in good shape and replace any that are suspect. Always use the type of tubing recommended by the chemical manufacturer for the greatest compatibility and safety. Be very careful when working on chemical metering and delivery equipment, especially on the pressure side of pumps or anyplace that is at or above eye level.
Ideally, chemical product would be stored in a space with moderate temperatures, out of direct sunlight and positioned for easy access. Face the labels for easy identification and do not remove any labels that indicate what the product is or its hazards. It is a legal requirement to keep any of the DOT warning labels on the products until the container is empty and well rinsed.
Finally, be prepared to handle chemical spills or leaking drums. Even in the best of operations, "Spills Happen". Clean up spills immediately and thoroughly, wearing proper personal protection equipment and following any specific directions listed on the MSDS.
Good Management = Safety and Success
When managers take safety seriously employees follow suit. Proper training and well thought-out systems for handling chemicals and equipment maintenance lead to efficient, effective chemical use and safe employees.
Handling chemicals safely should be a top priority for every car wash manager. Accidents are not only a financial risk but can also be personally devastating. By setting high standards for proper chemical handling, managers can avoid accidents, increase employee awareness, and help you get the most from your chemical dollars.
By: Rick Martens, Senior Chemist at CSI/Lustra™ Car Care Products
For more information go to Lustrabear.com.