Nationwide auto services provider exposed workers to potentially deadly electrical hazards at Beachwood Take 5 Car Wash, federal inspectors find
BEACHWOOD, OH ‒ While the potential deadly risks of mixing electricity and water are well known, Take 5 Car Wash, a Beachwood company operated by a subsidiary of one of the nation’s largest automotive services companies, ignored reports of employees suffering electrical shocks for more than 14 months, a U.S. Department of Labor investigation has found.
In response to a complaint of unsafe working conditions, the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an inspection of the car wash in March 2023 and learned that 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.
“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,” said OSHA Area Director Howard Eberts in Cleveland. “It is unsettling that a company with such vast resources would expose employees to the potentially deadly risks of electrical shock.”
Inspectors also found rusted electrical boxes with live wires, improper use of flexible cords, and restrooms without properly grounded outlets, all of which exposed workers to potential shocks. Additionally, inspectors found multiple energized electrical cabinets and boxes were not guarded to prevent contact with live parts.
In addition, OSHA inspectors found 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 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.
Following the March 2023 inspection, OSHA cited Driven Brands Shared Services LLC for one willful and 12 serious safety and health violations. The agency proposed $256,707 in penalties.
The operator, which acquired the Beachwood location in October 2020, is a subsidiary of the North Carolina-based Driven Brands Inc. The publicly traded parent company provides consumer and commercial automotive services, including paint, collision, glass, vehicle repair, oil change, maintenance and car wash through its Take 5 Oil Change, Take 5 Car Wash, Meineke Car Care Centers, Maaco, 1-800-Radiator & A/C, Auto Glass Now and CARSTAR brands.
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Driven Brands Inc. provides automotive services at more than 4,800 locations in 15 countries and services 70 million vehicles annually.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.