If you really think about it, the engine building/remanufacturing industry is the true essence of going green. After all, you’re recycling:
1. A used product for further performance;
2. The solvents for other use; and
3. Your shop’s revenue as you have to make more profit from fewer rebuilds.
“Most motors don’t run well until the third rebuild. When the block is green, you typically don’t get the best performance out of them,” said Buddy Judy of Safety Kleen. “These things run then you take them back in, tear them apart and clean them up.”
Judy runs Safety-Kleen’s motorsports program and has worked on environmental issues for many engine and auto racing shops in North America including NASCAR teams Joe Gibbs Racing, Kevin Harvick Inc. and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
In the past, shop owners have dealt with ever changing environmental and safety regulations around the garage space. An OSHA and EPA guide of regulation resembled a fluid puzzle rather than a helpful manual. But now, going green means more than hugging trees and learning to embrace the Toyota Prius. It’s a multi-billion dollar initiative. What was once known as an alternative is now an accepted adjustment that stresses efficiency and cost savings.
“(Shop owners or managers) can call their local OSHA office to have them come out and do an inspection,” Judy said. “OSHA also publishes a document in which it identifies the top 25 violations of the year.”
Every year, OSHA conducts various inspections on auto shops across the country and serves thousands of citations from faulty wiring to lack of safety literature or training. The fees accompanying every error can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. In some cases, each violation brings most smaller shop owners’ checkbook to the brink.
“Right now in a shop like mine and others across the country, it is just enough for the straw to break the camel’s back,” said Dean Yatchyshyn, owner of high-performance engine shop Cresap Automotive Machine in Cumberland, MD. “There is a thin line to cover the bill and if you got some kind of violation, it could push a lot of shop owners over the edge, and make them say ‘forget it’ and put the ‘Closed for Business’ sign up.”
Yatchyshyn and similar shop owners said the way to avoid such a headache is to simply get in front of the problem. When he opened his shop, Yatchyshyn reached out to OSHA for an initial inspection.
“I had them go around and inspect the place and they gave me a list of half of dozen items that could cause potential problems. I fixed them and haven’t seen them in 25 years,” he said. “It was a like a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card. I took positive steps to contact them so I didn’t have to see them with problems five and six years down the road when they could throw the book at me. It worked out well.”
Yatchyshyn said he learned to be proactive in being cognizant of green strategies. He put in the research time to purchase a sufficient dynamometer with acceptable noise levels and abatement. In addition to the cost of the dyno, he tacked on another $15,000 in sound deadening equipment. Yatchyshyn said the expense has been a worthy investment.
“When my dyno is running, I can have a 700 hp motor running full song. You step outside, and cars going up and down the street make more noise than my dyno does. If you don’t create a problem, you don’t have to fix it.”
For Frank Honsowetz of Ed Pink Racing in Van Nuys, CA, the EPA and OSHA regulation presence is as cemented in his state as death and taxes. “I think the fire department comes to inspect us regularly just because they just like the way the shop looks and to see what we’re up to,” he joked.
But keeping a green strategy is serious business for the high-end automotive engine rebuilder. For example – according to its state’s code, California law requires that all vehicles must be equipped with an adequate muffler to prevent excessive noise from the exhaust system. No level greater than 95 decibels, when tested under specified conditions, can be generated. Coupled with added restrictions and regulations, Honsowetz said it’s the price of doing business in the Golden State.
“There’s not many race engine shops around that have mufflers on their dynos” he said. “We have to be noise-conscious and aware of things as it is part of the joy of living in southern California.”
Though the endgame eventually leads to the government agencies’ approval, Judy also suggests there are other ways to meet efficient shop standards without doing it all yourself. His company has former OSHA and EPA inspectors on staff, and your local fire department officials or insurance representatives can be a big help.
“A workers compensation official can come out and do inspection and a lot of times, they ask shops to change things that OSHA might be fine with,” he said. “Knowing what has been the cause of claims in the past, officials can point out specific things that need to change as well. So, having those guys come out is a smart thing to do.”
When Dave Deegan, owner of Engine Labs of Tampa, wanted to test his efficiency he called for Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) in Hillsborough County for help.
Through its “Green Star” Program, the EPC assists auto repair facilities with its environmental compliance. Like similar green-focused plans across the country, the Green Star Program allows shops like Deegan’s to conduct a self-audit through a checklist developed by the state’s environmental protection department.
The workbook provides useful information such as ways to identify and handle hazardous materials as well as the explanation of details about events of spills and leaks plus emergency preparedness. It also breaks down the most common wastes of an auto repair shop including waste batteries, used oil, coolants and filters.
Once the auto facility completes the checklist, it is submitted to the EPC for review. Then, a certification inspection is performed to ensure that the required actions area in implementation. After successful compliance, the shop is certified as a “Green Star” facility.
“We are the first ‘Green Star’ facility in Hillsborough County,” Deegan said. “We get tested every three years to see if we are a small quantity generator or non-generator and we’ve been able to that by the way we clean and pay to get tested.”
Although proactive efforts can save future headaches it can become expensive in the front of end of your business costs, but having an efficient shop also has robust monetary value as well as social. Through recycling efforts from used oil to scrap metal that quickly recoup costs, going green can mean actual green dollar bills.
“I’m proud of the way we operate and the way we are responsible,” Honsowetz said. “I’m sure in the industry long ago, there were people doing things with waste they should not have been doing. But now, it is the case of doing the right thing and being considerate and doing the right thing. It goes a long way.”
Top Ten Violations for the Fiscal Year 2012
The following is a list of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Top Ten Violations for the fiscal year 2012 (Per its Law and Regulation number). Are you guilty of any of these?
Fall Protection in construction (1926.501)
• 7,250 violations
Frequently violated requirements included failure to protect open sides and edges, to prevent falls from roofs, and to cover holes.
Hazard Communication (1910.1200)
• 4,696 violations
Commonly violated requirements included failure to have a written program, inadequate employee education and training, improper or no labels on containers, and no MSDS’s (SDSs) or lack of access them.
Respiratory Protection (1910.134)
• 2,371 violations
Frequent violations were no written respiratory protection program, poor fit test procedures, unsuitable respirator selection process, and lack of procedures for voluntary use of respirators.
Ladders in construction (1926.1053)
• 2,310 violations
Violations included damaged side rails, use of the top ladder step, inappropriate ladder for the job, and excessive loads on ladders.
Machine Guarding (1910.212)
• 2,097 violations
Violations included point of operation exposures, inadequate or no anchoring of fixed machinery, and exposure to blades.
Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)
• 1,993 violations
Common violations were inadequate operator training and refresher training, and poor conditions of PITs when returned to service after repair.
Electrical-wiring methods (1910.305)
• 1,744 violations
Violations included problems with flexible cords and cables, boxes, and temporary wiring, poor use of extension cords, and using temporary wiring as permanent wiring.
• 1,572 violations
Frequent violations were poor or no energy control procedures, inadequate worker training, and inspections not completed.
Electrical-general requirements (1910.303)
• 1,332 violations
Common violations were related to electric shock and electrocution exposures.
To download the Green Strategies Guide, click here.