Unguarded Conveyor Injures Carwash Worker

OSHA has cited Clearwater Management Inc., doing business as Splash Handwash, for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards, proposing a total of $62,500 in fines after an employee was injured at the company's Fairfield, Conn., carwash. The agency said the worker suffered foot and ankle injuries after he became caught in an unguarded opening on the operating conveyor track that moves vehicles through the carwash. OSHA's inspection found that the opening should have been covered or guarded to prevent employees from being caught in the conveyor.

"You might not think of a carwash as a particularly dangerous workplace, but hazards can be present in any workplace if the proper safeguards are not provided and maintained," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport, Conn. "In this case, in addition to the unguarded conveyor opening, OSHA identified mechanical, chemical, electrical and other hazards associated with the equipment and chemicals used in carwashes."

As a result of its inspection, OSHA has issued the company 11 serious citations, carrying $29,500 in proposed fines, for the unguarded conveyor opening and the following conditions: uncovered electrical outlets in wet areas; misused extension cords; energized grounding terminals; a locked emergency exit; a too narrow exit aisle; unmarked exit doors; tripping hazards from uneven concrete and hoses and cords lying in work areas; unguarded belts and pulleys and untested safety valves on air compressors; and lack of an emergency eyewash for employees working with corrosive cleaners. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Three repeat citations, with $30,000 in fines, have been issued for lack of eye and face protection for a worker spraying chemical cleaners and for not training workers on chemical hazards and required personal protective equipment. OSHA had cited the company in 2008 for similar hazards at Splash Handwash locations in Norwalk and Greenwich, Conn. Five other-than-serious citations, with $3,000 in fines, have been issued, chiefly for incomplete and uncertified injury and illness logs.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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