Avoid Costly Fines by Creating a Safer Workplace

By Toby Chess

I was asked recent­ly what the penal­ty from the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA) would be for a shop using an ille­gal air blow­er. After check­ing with an OSHA office in Cal­i­for­nia, I dis­cov­ered the offend­ing shop could get a fine of up to $7,000.

If your shop isn’t meet­ing OSHA com­pli­ance, you could be a prime tar­get for some very expen­sive penal­ties. Of course, you shouldn’t be look­ing at OSHA com­pli­ance alone as a mon­e­tary issue. Being com­pli­ant trans­lates into main­tain­ing a safe, orga­nized work­place that’s also more pro­duc­tive.

Let’s look at some of the more com­mon vio­la­tions in the body shop:


  • Check all exten­sion cords for dam­age. Cords repaired with elec­tri­cal tape and with bro­ken grounds are both seri­ous vio­la­tions.
  • All high volt­age box­es must be labeled with a DANGER sign.
  • All out­lets must have cov­ers installed.
  • All ener­gized parts of elec­tri­cal cir­cuits and equip­ment must be guard­ed with approved cab­i­nets or enclo­sures to pre­vent acci­den­tal con­tact.


  • Make sure that all in-ground pulling pots are flush with sur­face when not in use. Many times, the cov­ers are bent and they are out on the floor, which cre­ates a trip­ping haz­ard.
  • Main­tain approved spill con­tain­ment con­tain­ers. Absorbent mate­r­i­al in a small garbage can some­times works, but it must be marked and placed in an acces­si­ble area.

Fire Risks

  • Be sure to main­tain unground­ed flam­ma­ble stor­age con­tain­ers. Make sure the lids on these con­tain­ers are always closed and that there is sig­nage on the wall iden­ti­fy­ing them.
  • Fire extin­guish­ers must be mount­ed with­in 10 feet of any inside stor­age area con­tain­ing flam­ma­ble mate­ri­als; they must be charged and prop­er­ly tagged
  • Main­tain a class D fire extin­guish­er for a mag­ne­sium fire.

Body shop spe­cif­ic

  • Make sure all res­pi­ra­tors are placed in a secured bag when not in use.
  • Con­tain­ers hold­ing sol­vent need to be sealed.
  • Label all bot­tles in your shop.
  • Bat­ter­ies must be stored on a spill con­tain­ment tray.

Keep in mind that meet­ing OSHA com­pli­ance is an every­day endeav­or. It’s some­thing you have to work for, and being com­pli­ant isn’t an easy chore, nor is it excep­tion­al­ly dif­fi­cult.

Toby Chess, an I-CAR pro­gram instruc­tor and Train­ing Spe­cial­ist, can be reached at [email protected]. Be sure to read the full arti­cle here.



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