Design - May 2010

Defensive Design — Minimize
Chances of Damage or Injury

By Ralph Nasca

As employers and service providers to the public, business owners take on certain responsibilities with regard to the safety and wellbeing of their employees, customers, and their property. It is, of course, in the best interests of business owners to ensure that the changes of any damage or injury occurring be minimized. What follows, in a nutshell, is a set of suggestions to meet that goal. It’s the practical application of the old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

LAYOUT

A left-hand turn onto the conveyor, followed by a straight drive on a slight downward slope provides the easiest conveyor-loading scenario.

A good site layout with correct turning radii and good visibility is the starting point. This will allow customers and employees to easily maneuver on the site while keeping each other within line of sight. A left-hand turning radius onto the conveyor, followed by a straight drive on a slight downward slope provides the easiest conveyor-loading scenario. A well-lit tunnel and a light broom finish for the concrete floor helps alleviate slipping hazards. Leaving the tunnel we suggest the pavement slope downhill away from the exit. Of course, surveillance via cameras for all areas of the site, tunnel, equipment room, and office area provides optimum visibility.

EQUIPMENT

A brightly colored guide rail (yellow) designating the location of the conveyor and non-skid conveyor pit covers reduces slipping hazards.

A brightly colored guide rail (yellow) designating the location of the conveyor and non-skid conveyor pit covers reduces slipping hazards. We generally use cloth wash media for fixed side wheels and cloth mitter curtains and neo-tex (foam) wash media for top wheels and wrap-arounds. Wheel and tire cleaning can be safely achieved with chemistry and high-pressure water (800-1,000 psi). We do not recommend the use of any hydro-fluoric acid or similar products because of safety issues with employees and customers. Biodegradable soaps and waxes can achieve the desired results. A chemical safety program is highly recommended along with the equipment necessary for the program (i.e., eye wash center, appropriate clothing, boots, safety manuals, etc.). A general safety program is also recommended to consist of manuals, videos, and personal instruction. A first-report-of-injury form should be filled out immediately upon any personal injuries and should be part of the safety manual.

DAMAGE

Teaching employees to visually inspect vehicles for previous damage and simply pointing to the damage and acknowledging this to the surveillance system will prove to be helpful. The surveillance system should also capture the vehicles’ license plates. Employees should be trained on potential vehicle manufacturing deficiencies and know how to mitigate possible damages. If there is some type of vehicle damage, correct documentation should be completed. Research should be done to determine the cause, and customer follow up should occur as quickly as possible, not necessarily at the time of incident.

Ralph Nasca is with ProTech Services Co. Inc. in Lewisville, TX and has been in the car wash business since he was 14 years old. He managed an exterior car wash for four years, owned and operated a full-service car wash for six years, and for the last 24 years has been involved in the development of over 200 conveyorized car washes. Ralph has been on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Car Wash Association for four years.

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