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September 08, 2023
Car services franchisor facing $265K in OSHA fines

An international automotive services franchisor faces $256,707 in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) penalties for 1 willful and 12 serious safety and health violations at its franchised Take 5 Car Wash location in Beechwood, Ohio, the agency announced September 7. Take 5 Car Wash is a franchised automotive service center of Driven Brands, whose other franchises include 1-800-Radiator & A/C, Auto Glass Now, CARSTAR, Maaco, Meineke Car Care Centers, and Take 5 Oil Change.

The agency cited Driven Brands Shared Services LLC, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, for safety and health violations at the Beechwood Take 5 Car Wash location.

The Beechwood Take 5 Car Wash ignored reports of employees suffering electrical shocks for more than 14 months, according to OSHA.

The agency, responding to a complaint of unsafe working conditions, opened an inspection of the car wash in March 2023 and learned employees were assigned to clean the walls of the facility with high-pressure water near electrical equipment, including a 480-volt electrical panel not rated for wet or damp locations and showing signs of deterioration.

Inspectors found improper use of flexible cords, restrooms without properly grounded outlets, and rusted electrical boxes with live wires, all of which exposed workers to potential shocks. OSHA inspectors also found multiple energized electrical cabinets and boxes that weren’t guarded to prevent contact with live parts.

Unguarded electrical equipment at the car wash yielded the employer’s single willful violation and a $156,259 proposed penalty—OSHA’s maximum fine. The agency defines a willful violation as when the employer either knowingly failed to comply with a legal requirement—purposeful disregard—or acted with plain indifference to employee safety.

Agency inspectors also found that Take 5 Car Wash failed to:

  • Use lockout procedures to control potentially hazardous energy sources for those working in the car wash tunnel amid automatically controlled equipment, highly pressurized water, and heated blowers.
  • Remove lockout/tagout kits from boxes.
  • Train employees on energy control procedures and applying lockout devices on track and tunnel equipment.
  • Conduct required periodic inspections of machine safety procedures.
  • Ensure adequate working space was provided around electrical equipment.
  • Train unqualified persons on safety-related electrical work practices, and provide them with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

OSHA’s lockout/tagout (control of hazardous energy) standard (29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §1910.147) is the agency’s sixth most frequently cited standard, cited 1,977 times in fiscal year (FY) 2022.

“Our investigation found that Take 5 Car Wash’s management knew that live electrical hazards existed throughout the facility, and that employees suffered electrical shocks repeatedly, yet allowed them to continue working in these conditions and took several weeks to make repairs after a worker suffered electrical shock,” Howard Eberts, OSHA’s Cleveland area director, said in an agency statement.

“It is unsettling that a company with such vast resources would expose employees to the potentially deadly risks of electrical shock.”

Driven Brands Inc. provides automotive services at more than 4,800 locations in 15 countries and services 70 million vehicles annually, according to OSHA.

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