Auto repair and body shops are among the businesses which experience fires most frequently due to the storage of flammable liquids, spray painting and welding that are conducted in these occupancies. Because the potential for fire is great, owners must observe fire safety codes, train employees to recognize the importance of following maintenance schedules and recognize situations which could cause a fire.

 
Building departments, fire departments and other government regulators have comprehensive code requirements for auto repair and body shops to follow. The code requirements are designed to prevent excessive damage from similar fire situations in your establishment. Work necessary to adhere to code requirements should not be considered a burden for managers and workers who have busy and stress-filled work days. Code adherence should be considered a way to prevent injury, maintain property, and safeguard jobs.   The safety tips below are provided to help you identify potential hazards in your premises. This list is by no means comprehensive, and is not intended as a substitute for knowing and understanding applicable codes and regulations.
     

Please use these guidelines to eliminate the risk of fire hazards.

Auto Repair and Body Shop Safety

Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)

Gather MSDS sheets from manufacturers to ensure you’re storing and using materials in a safe manner. Use  equipment according to manufacturers’ specifications.

Training

Make sure your employees are properly trained and have proper certification to perform spray painting and  welding.

Fire Safety Plan

Develop a fire safety plan for your shop. Make sure all employees are familiar with it and understand its  importance.

Proper Storage

Store flammable paints, thinners and adhesives in approved fire-rated cabinets away from ignition sources. Store oxygen and fuel tanks separately; away from heat and sunlight, in a dry, well-ventilated area.

Regular Equipment Checks

Check electrical equipment to locate wiring that is frayed or cracked and could cause sparks near welding or painting equipment. Make sure that equipment is properly grounded. Never weld containers that have held flammable or combustible material until the container has been thoroughly cleaned.

Clean Work Environment

Clean oil spills immediately. Remove trash daily. Keep oily rags and clothing in a CSA listed closed metal container until  you dispose of or launder them.

Proper Labelling

Gas tanks used for welding should be properly labeled. They should be stored away from heavy traffic areas and should  be chained securely to avoid damage.

Avoid Heat and Flames

Do not use space heaters where spray painting or welding is done, or near oil or gas storage tanks. Keep portable lamps or any flame source out of the spray booth. Be sure that fire extinguishers and sprinklers in spray booths are operational. Check that spray booth ventilation is working as designed. Clean filters, ducts and interior walls of the booth. Operate the ventilation system for a period of time after painting to remove residue vapours and paint. Use electric fixtures and switches that are designed for use in explosive environments. Be sure the welding cart includes a fire extinguisher.

Enforce “NO SMOKING” rules.

Establish Specific Areas and Zones

Welding or cutting should be performed in areas free of combustible materials. An inspection of the area should be performed before leaving work and frequently during a 30-minute period after the welding operation has ended. Be particularly vigilant when using portable welding equipment to be sure it is used in a safe environment. Make sure hoses are in good condition.