By Andy Graff, Chief Compliance Officer
The safety and well-being of your dealership employees are paramount, especially amid rising temperatures and increased heat-related risks during these summer months. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has taken note of these concerns and has recently intensified its focus on heat stress prevention at dealerships. In this article, we will delve into key topics surrounding OSHA’s audits and how ComplyAuto Safety can be your ally in achieving compliance and safeguarding your workforce against scrutiny.
OSHA Visits: Stay Prepared!OSHA has been actively conducting inspections at dealerships and it is essential to be aware that these visits are happening. Being well-prepared will ensure a smooth process and demonstrate your commitment to maintaining a safe workplace. Some examples of workplace preparedness include:
- Remember Initial Exposure is the Most Dangerous: Most outdoor heat illnesses and fatalities occur within the first few days of increased temperatures because our bodies haven’t had a chance to build up a tolerance yet. It usually takes five to seven days to acclimatize to significant temperature changes, so take it easy at the beginning of a heat wave.
- Hydration: Encourage employees to drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during hot weather. Provide access to cool, potable water near the work area and remind employees to hydrate regularly.
- Rest and Shade: Schedule frequent rest breaks in shaded or cool areas to allow employees to recover from heat exposure. Along those lines, make sure that shaded or cool areas are close to exposed work areas and are easily accessible. Encourage employees to take breaks before they feel overly fatigued or experience symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
- Workload and Scheduling: Adjust workloads and schedules to avoid peak heat hours whenever possible. Consider limiting strenuous tasks to cooler parts of the day.
- Training and Education: Train employees and supervisors about the dangers of heat stress, how to recognize its symptoms, and the importance of prompt action when symptoms arise.
- Heat Illness Prevention Program: Develop a comprehensive heat illness prevention program tailored to your dealership. The program should include risk assessments, preventive measures, and guidelines for managing heat-related hazards.
Even though OSHA’s primary emphasis is on heat illness prevention, they may also scrutinize other areas that traditionally pose significant safety concerns while on-site.
Heat Stress: The Primary Focus
Heat stress poses a significant risk to employees, particularly those working in outdoor areas or under extreme conditions. The National Emphasis Program (NEP) has defined “heat priority days” as days when the heat index is expected to be 80°F or higher. OSHA’s latest guidance on preventing heat-related issues at high-risk workplaces allows OSHA to inspect your dealership on these days. For more information, click here.
A Comprehensive Heat Illness Prevention Program:
To protect your employees from heat-related illnesses, it is crucial to have a well-developed and comprehensive heat illness prevention program in place. Such a program should include proper risk assessments, implementation of preventive measures, and guidelines for identifying and responding to heat stress-related symptoms. Dealerships are encouraged to review the heat illness requirements of their state to make sure that they are compliant with unique state requirements.
Annual Training: Keeping Your Workforce Informed
Regular training is a critical component of a successful safety program. Are your employees aware of the heat-related risk factors that can impact the risk of heat illness? How about the types of heat illness and their symptoms? Providing your employees with annual heat stress training helps raise awareness and ensures they are equipped to identify and manage potential hazards effectively. You can easily assign Heat and Cold Stress Prevention training in ComplyAuto’s Workforce dashboard.
The Consequences of Non-Compliance
Recent instances of dealerships facing hefty fines, like the nearly $200,000 in penalties imposed on a New Hampshire auto repair facility for OSHA safety violations, underscore the importance of adhering to safety regulations. Although these fines were not related to heat stress, the inspection, and ensuing fines should remind us that OSHA penalties can be very expensive and be the canary warning for dealers to review the safety of their workplaces. Additionally, OSHA has a fair amount of discretion under the general duty clause and typically uses it as authority for most citations relating to heat-related illnesses.
ComplyAuto Safety: Your Trusted Solution
ComplyAutoSafety is here to bring dealers an automated approach to streamline policy management, employee training, and much more. Our comprehensive platform is designed to help you effortlessly achieve compliance at your dealership, ensuring that your employees are well-versed in safety protocols and that your dealership is a safe workplace.
As OSHA continues its audits and enforcement activities in the automotive industry, being proactive in heat stress prevention and overall safety compliance is essential. By utilizing the ComplyAutoSafety platform, you can stay ahead of regulatory demands and ensure the well-being of your workforce. Invest in the right tools and practices today to safeguard your dealership and employees for a safer tomorrow.