Managing Hazardous Waste in Auto Repair & Paint Body Shops

Tags: Shop Management

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Automotive Repair and Pant and Body Shops have become highly regulated in the recent past. For many shop owners the cost of doing business and complying with the amazing amount of overhead associated with the products required to make repairs has put them out of business however this is not to say that it is impossible to meet these regulations and turn a profit.

We have seen many shops move away from overall paint jobs and only deal with minor repairs that can be accomplished with spot jobs. This may be due to the costs related to providing such services as material costs have increased by 400% or more in the past 2 decades but it can also be that regulations are a large factor. Just as you pay a water bill to provide water for your home and business you also pay a sewer bill to take away waste materials. In the Automotive and Repair Industry as materials costs have gone up so have recycling and disposal costs.

This is an overview of some of the required practices for Professional Paint and Body Shops. It should not be seen as a primary guide but only a look at some of the procedures that should be followed for compliance and best practices.

Regulation of Automotive Repair Shops can be found at the Federal, State, County and Local level in most areas of the US and because of this you must really consider where you are doing business and what rules apply to your business. If moving your business a mile or two can save you tens of thousands of dollars and a burden of inspection and paperwork you may want to consider this as an option however you should never put yourself in a position where an eventual inspection can shut you down.

You will find that many of the regulations are in your best interest. If you are a high production shop you should want to conduct your business in a clean manner not only for compliance but to increase your productivity. On the other hand I will be honest you may find a few rules that are overboard. My recommendation is that when you find a rule thats not normal industry practice is that you follow it to the best of your ability because this is how they will screw you when you are inspected and fined.

Understanding and Using MSD Information

Every product manufacture should supply you with a Material Safety Data Sheet that will explain the makeup of the product and how it should be handled and disposed of. These Guides provided by Manufacturers may or may not include information about regulation of the item but they should be used as a best practices method of use and disposal.

Many manufacturers also provide recycling services for higher dollar items that can be reconditioned such as hybrid battery systems. When ever possible you should take advantage of these situations because it will reduce your cost.

When a Material Safety Data Sheet is not provided such as in the case of Waste Tires you may follow the government recommendations as to how to store such products on your site.

Paint Booths and Hazardous Materials Requirements

Where the home hobbyist can get away without a booth professionals are now required to reduce the amount of materials that get into the environment. This means in many locations any time you spray any type of paint you must be inside a booth or a protected area.

In general you must use an enclosed booth that can capture 98% of the material exhausted. This is not a huge hardship because filters are available for all booths to accomplish this.

In addition to materials regulations you should also learn about OSHA regulations and the protection of yourself or your staff when it comes to handling paint and related materials. MSD Sheets can provide safety procedures that will reduce your exposure and in turn you will benefit from being healthier.

Low VOC Paints must be used in most applications and many shops are moving to Water Based Paints to reduce their regulatory costs even more. Unfortunately most systems have not found a total primer base clear system so you can expect to have dual systems such as gun washers in place which can increase your investment.

You will find that your shop is regulated based on your volume of material use.

Notification To Government Offices

Compliance is something that can take quiet a lot of effort. In larger businesses you may need a dedicated hire to cover all of the paperwork and management. However you will need to announce your intention to open and do business. There are EPA Forms that must be signed and you will need to describe your business methods for stripping old paint and applying new. You will need to keep records on site for inspections or notify the location they are kept.

Some States have exemptions from State regulation for small shops that use a minimal amount of materials. For instance Florida allows up to a total of 6 gallons of paints and solvents to be used per day under their general exemption but not all shops qualify.

Storage and Disposal of Hazardous Waste

Your location will dictate the procedures for storage of waste material however there are some general rules.

The volume of waste that you store will require faster disposal or pickup times as it increases.

For instance many states have three levels of waste generator categories up to about 25 gallons or 220 pounds you may be exempt, from 220 to 1000 or from half a drum to 5 drums you are mid level and above that you are high volume.

The rules will require you to never store over a specific amount of materials at any time and then also you must remove material within a number of days since it was generated.

This means you need to keep records of when the material was generated and then when it was disposed.

The storage containers must be sealed with auto closing funnels and must be stored a specific distance from your building.

Basically when you are setting up your shop you follow the rules to install a system of waste management and then you continue to follow it every day.





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