Shop productivity and OSHA travel the same road

There are many things you can do to keep OSHA happy. But the first thing you need to do is to keep yourself, your employees, boss or owner happy.

The first thing you many want to do is take a camera around the shop with you and take a couple hundred pictures. That’s not hard today with a digital camera. Then, once you take those pictures, create a slideshow, and you will see that you have plenty to do.

Here are some basic things to consider:

1. The first thing to do is clean the shop. I mean clean the shop and start with the easier things – that is throw out everything that does not have a place – used parts, trash, junk, whatever is in your path. You need to do this with a team of people who understand what your goal is. This also includes under shelves, in the corners, top of tool boxes, hanging from the walls. Also take down all of the pictures and calendars that we all have had given to us. Now that you have cleaned out the shop, ensure that whatever goes back into the shop is clean is useful and has a proper place for access and storage.

2. I would suggest that you wash the floors – really wash them. The floor may need to be pressure washed.

3. After the floor dries completely, lay down a quality oil-based primer and allow it to dry for a couple days. Then put down a quality oil-based high gloss and light gray oil-based paint applied in thin coats. Note: I have seen green, white and red; two light coats are all you would need. Let the paint set for a few days and then place a clear coat hard-top coat that is like iron and rolled on top of the primer and top coat. Some people have had success with a water-based product; I have not had that same success, but am currently testing one shop location. I would suggest bright, high-gloss yellow (not traffic flat yellow). In the areas where you walk, paint red 4-in. lines around the yellow walk areas as well as across the overhead doors, so all know not to go beyond that area.

4. Paint bright gloss yellow on all stairways and hand rails. The bottom treads can also be yellow for caution simulating visual effects.

5. Paint the safety areas bright green, for instance, where you have eye wash stations, the floor, back wall, or other safety areas.

6. The shop walls and ceilings should be painted bright high gloss white, not light gray starting off dirty white from the start. Use a quick drying HIGH GLOSS latex water base. It dries quickly and it’s easy to clean. Some company accent colors may need to appear in certain areas.

7. Fire extinguisher areas should also be painted red and clearly marked for noting a designated area. Be sure there are plenty of them as well. Also, have one mounted on each torch cart and on the welder.

8. Exit doors can be painted a specific color. I choose bright red, as the exit sign and emergency door are also red. Also, insert reflective decals so if the emergency lights do not work, a flashlight will clearly show you the way.

9. Bottom of the roll-up doors should be painted bright high gloss yellow for visual effect as well.

10. Remove the speedy dry and replace with “mops and buckets.”

These are just a couple of basic concepts that will enhance the productivity of your shop, raise the perception of the quality of the work performance, make the employees feel better about the place they spend a third of their day, and keep OSHA happy when they come through the door. “What they see is what you get or don’t get.”

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