Automatic Car Wash Regulations
Like all businesses, car washes come with specific risks and dangers that employers must know to protect their employees and customers. Many federal and state organizations have regulations to help businesses like car washes maintain safety standards.
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a government program dedicated to protecting local ecosystems and the environment through public regulations. Their main piece of legislation is the Clean Water Act (CWA), which protects waterways and sources from many modern dangers.
The EPA has many policies and programs for businesses to reduce their environmental impact, including car washes. They recommend that locals seek out professional car washes instead of washing their cars because EPA regulations on car washes will help keep local bodies of water safe from chemicals and oils.
For car washes to stay within EPA regulations, they must comply with water waste and discharge rules and programs. Because car washes need to use chemicals and other substances, like wax, with their machinery to provide customers with thorough cleans, they also need to ensure they keep those chemicals out of local ecosystems and waterways to prevent damaging them. The Transportation Environmental Resource Center notes that professional car wash businesses can not empty wastewater into storm drains, as this could harm the environment.
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is a part of the CWA that issues business permits to help control the amount of chemicals and harmful substances they include in their water waste. Each permit contains limits businesses need to maintain to keep water quality safe for local ecosystems and aquatic life. If companies follow the proper water discharge procedures, they can meet those limits and avoid citations from the EPA.
NPDES has various programs, including the Stormwater Program, which helps protect ecosystems from chemicals and harmful discharge that runoff into drains after storms. Car washes have many outdoor services where chemicals can spill on the ground and become susceptible to storm runoff. You can invest in separate storm drains that will allow you to collect water before it reenters the watershed for chemical treatment.
In addition to limiting how many substances make it into regular water waste, many businesses that use pollutants in their daily functions need to follow water pretreatment plans. After companies collect water waste, they send it to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW), which process water and clean it for reuse. However, businesses like car washes need to do their part to treat water before sending it to lessen the load on POTW and further protect water quality.
The goal of the water pretreatment program is to ensure POTW can best treat water waste and discharge. When businesses pretreat their water waste, they can ensure that the water they send to local POTW won’t interfere with or bypass its systems, either slowing down the cleaning process or working its way back into clean water systems. A pretreatment plan helps businesses better recycle and reuse water.
Pretreatment plans will outline what you need to treat your water before sending it over to POTW based on local and federal regulations.
While the EPA primarily protects the environment, like water quality and natural flora and fauna, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) releases regulations to ensure your workplace is safe for your employees and customers. Like the EPA, OSHA conducts site inspections to ensure employers implement the proper safety procedures.
Car washes pose unique risks to employees and customers, but following OSHA guidelines for handling equipment and chemicals can help you ensure your car wash is safe for everyone. You can create an OSHA-approved car wash by implementing essential safety practices, including:
- Include Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): Because car washes work with chemicals, you need to provide MSDS for every chemical you use onsite and where employees can easily access them. MSDS should include the chemical, its properties and use, potential risks and required protective gear. These information sheets function as informative measures so that employees understand what they encounter each day and protect themselves from potential hazards.
- Provide adequate protective gear: In addition to providing information about chemicals employees come into contact with, you will also need to give them the proper protective gear for using and working with other equipment. To ensure safety, clearly mark where employees can locate the gear and what they need to use when.
- Clear areas of hazards: You can keep employees and customers safe from falls and trips when walking by ensuring that all walkways are clear of spills or objects. Clearly marking traffic ways can help prevent vehicle accidents, so you can better protect your business, customers and employees. Including adequate drainage can keep water from pooling in areas where you use more water.
- Maintain equipment function: Because car washes rely on powerful equipment to maintain cleaning standards, it’s vital to protect your employees from equipment malfunctions. Regularly inspect equipment or run frequent tests to ensure equipment meets its performance standards.
- Host regular training: When you hire new staff, require thorough safety training that outlines workplace risks and how to avoid them. Hold annual training for returning staff to refresh their memories about safety procedures and risks. You can also use these opportunities to educate on any new safety measures you want to implement at your car wash.
- Designate spaces for customers: Car washes have many moving parts, so you can protect customers by marking where they can go. Whether you have a waiting room where they can stay until their car’s ready or a clear path for them to follow through your wash, make sure they know where to go for a safe visit.
Following OSHA guidelines and creating a safe workplace is essential for avoiding violations and maintaining the safety of your employees and customers. Still, you can also support your business’s reputation. An accident-free car wash will help your customers and employees trust your business and know they are safe using your services.
Learn More About Car Wash Safety With JBS Industries
Creating a safe environment that meets EPA and OSHA standards can be challenging for car wash owners. However, by following guidelines, you can help protect your environment and create a trusted establishment where your employees and customers feel safe and assured.
At JBS Industries, we are experts in the car washing industry and understand its unique needs. We offer high-quality products you can safely implement into your car wash systems to improve your regular services. To help maintain your safety, we include safety data sheets with essential product and protection information for products like our detergents and protectants.
Contact us today for more information about how JBS Industries can help maintain EPA and OSHA regulations.