It doesn’t matter how great a carwash washes cars if, first and foremost, it isn’t providing a safe and healthy environment and following compliance regulations. Danny Lynch, Eastman Lynch operations manager, works with the members of the Australian Car Wash Association (ACWA) to educate wash owners about all of the important information they need to know to keep their wash in compliance with health and safety laws.

The importance of the owner taking charge

Carwashes have many moving parts, but when managed and organized correctly, they are very safe. Lynch recommends owners consistently work to make sure safety is of the upmost importance. “It is vital for carwash owners to be proactive in providing a healthy and safe environment at their carwash as they are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, customers, contractors and others who come onto their site,” said Lynch.

The owner of the wash must play the most important part in ensuring health and safety, according to Lynch. He said this is not something that can be delegated to managers because the owner “will generally be held personally liable for any fines or penalties in the event of a prosecution.”

Two of the most significant responsibilities for an owner, according to Lynch, are having a full understanding of health and safety issues in the specific business they’re in, and keeping updated information on all health and safety matters. “Most business owners need assistance in fulfilling these responsibilities and that is the reason the Australian Car Wash Association has engaged [Eastman Lynch] to provide service to their members.”

Being proactive

The job of a carwash owner is to manage safety and compliance issues across many different areas, Lynch said. Some of the specific areas carwash owners must manage are maintenance and repair, training and consulting staff, and properly maintaining equipment. “The keeping of records of actions taken is a vital aspect of managing health and safety as owners need to be able to show evidence of compliance,” said Lynch. He added that this is particularly important when there has been an accident that results in a WorkCover Authority Investigation.  

Wash owners need to regularly monitor and inspect their site for anything that can expose workers and customers to injury or harm, Lynch said. “Safety issues that are most common in carwashes include chemical accidents and exposures, falls from heights, bullying and harassment issues, and sun safety. Lynch stressed that it is important to be proactive, and take steps to eliminate or reduce the chance of an accident as opposed to having a reactive plan, or expecting employees to “use common sense.”

It isn’t just important to have risk controls in place, but also to communicate them to employees, said Lynch. There are multiple ways to effectively transmit this information, he said, including training sessions and safety meetings. Members of the ACWA have access to a health and safety manual which provides specific information on compliance requirements, Lynch added.  

New regulations mean greater need for safety compliance

There are new Work Health and Safety laws in all states, excluding Victoria and Western Australia, which are based on a national model, Lynch said. These laws, Victoria and Western Australia have similar regulations, are now stronger in ensuring owners are proactive “in their management of health and safety,” Lynch said. Owners will not be able to use the defense that they “weren’t aware,” he continued. 

“Health and safety is a specialised area that requires expertise and experience to ensure it is managed correctly while not [requiring an unnecessarily] large investment of time and money which can negatively impact the operation of the business,” Lynch said. Proper compliance is about being knowledgeable, and taking advantage of the resources available to understand safety and health requirements.