The professional carwashing business can be fun, profitable and rewarding in so many different ways for new owners. After all, your business is providing a service that makes most customers feel good about taking care of and protecting their family’s second most expensive investment. However, carwashing does not come without risk and safety concerns. A carwash has a lot of moving — and slick and wet — parts, and one accident can turn those good vibes sour.
In this short article, we take a look at seven points of focus for new investors in the area of safety. Every carwash is unique, so be sure to recognize risks and implement safety protocols.
During the site design phase of starting your carwash, did you take safety into consideration? Chances are, it will only take a few months before you realize if you and your developers did or did not effectively consider safety during site selection and planning.
In addition to adequate ingress and egress points, incorporating wide lanes, especially in turning areas, is crucial to promote traffic flow and prevent accidents. This is especially important at professional carwashes in smaller areas, such as in-bay automatics (IBAs) and self-serves.
In addition to wider, more visible areas, it is considered best practice to incorporate pavement markings and mirrors around blind turns so drivers and staff can see incoming traffic or people crossing.
Related to site design is proper signage. Informative signage letting customers and staff know the traffic patterns and entrance/exit points will also limit your exposure to injury and risk. In addition to traditional, changeable letter signs, new LED signage, which offers the most versatility, can feature dynamic transition effects and video. Make sure all signage is clearly visible, purposeful and communicates your intended message.
Also, along with using signage to promote proper traffic flow, be sure to include personal safety signage in storage and chemical handling areas. Keeping employees safe when handling resource fulfilment duties is equally important at any carwash.
Personal protection equipment
Personal protection equipment (PPE) should be offered to all employees as needed. Working with some chemicals and heavy equipment exposes workers to injuries. When needed, safety gloves, back, knee, wrist and hand braces, goggles, masks and even protective suits can help your business put safety first and risk last.
Also, be sure to include eye and chemical wash stations, as well as first aid kits, in case of an emergency and for routine washing after handling potentially dangerous chemicals and materials at your wash. Furthermore, since carwashing produces a wet, fast environment, encourage workers to wear slip-resistant footwear while working at your carwash.
Slips, trips and falls are some of the leading causes for worker’s compensation claims in most states. Limit foot traffic where protruding surfaces or cables and objects on the floor are present. As a baseline, leading into lobby areas of your carwash, you should have 15 feet of matting to provide adequate scraping and drying of dirt and moisture.
In addition to entrance matting, new carwash owners should consider many other types of matting for the rest of the business, including grit “catchers,” electric conductive deck plate mats, anti-fatigue mats and oil/water absorbent mats.
Limiting and preventing slips, falls and other common accidents that could occur at a carwash are also effectively accomplished with modern lighting. Obviously, if customers and employees can clearly see where they are going as well as any hazardous obstructions that might be present, reducing risk will come naturally.
Especially important for self-serves and IBAs open throughout the night, bright bays and well-lit indoor and outdoor areas of the wash make customers feel welcomed and secure at any hour. Proper lighting can also help your staff spot potential issues, such as slick surfaces, before they become costly problems.
Related to this last point in lighting is improving lines of sight at your carwash. While landscaping at your site can offer an attractive upscale image to customers, it can also create a safety issue at your carwash if bushes, trees, shrubs, etc., are carefully trimmed backed and groomed.
Of course, talking with customers and employees is the most effective way to promote and improve safety at your site. New owners should not only make customers and staff aware of potential risks around the wash, but they should also clearly listen to the feedback they receive from these individuals.
These are just seven ways to improve safety and limit risk at your new carwash. We encourage you to read Professional Carwashing & Detailing each month and visit Carwash.com each day to augment your complete safety plan as you continue to build a strong foundation for carwash success into the future.