Disregard for Workers

Nationwide auto services provider exposed workers to potentially deadly electrical hazards at Beachwood Take 5 Car Wash, federal inspectors find

Driven Brands subsidiary faces $256K in penalties for 13 safety, health violations

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.

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Electrical fatalities and injuries in the workplace

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication
Photo: Electrical Safety Foundation International


Arlington, VA — In 2020, 126 U.S. workers suffered fatal electrical injuries, a 24% decrease from the previous year, but nonfatal electrical injuries involving days away from work increased 17% over that same span, according to a recent data analysis by the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

Examining data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, ESFI found that 44% of the electrical fatalities involved workers in construction and extraction, while 20% involved those in installation, maintenance and repair. Among the 2,220 nonfatal electrical injuries involving DAFW – reported amid a 10% decrease in hours worked in 2020 – the most impacted occupations were installation, maintenance and repair (31%); service (25%); and construction and extraction (21%).

Other findings:

  • The number of electrical fatalities in the workplace marked the fewest since the data was first compiled in 2003.
  • 40% of the deaths and 13% of the injuries involved Hispanic or Latino workers.
  • 63% of the injuries occurred among workers employed by their organization for at least one year.
  • The rate of work-related electrical fatalities was highest for the mining (0.8 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers) and construction industries (0.6 per 100,000 FTEs). For all industries, that rate was 0.09 per 100,000 FTEs.
  • Overall, 5.3% of all electrical incidents reported were fatal.
  • Contact with or exposure to an electric current accounted for 2.6% of the fatalities.

“By studying how and why workers are getting hurt, ESFI can create new materials to help educate all workers, whether they work regularly with electricity or not, to stay safe on the worksite to prevent these avoidable incidents,” the nonprofit organization says in a press release.

In 2019, ESFI released a series of resources with recommendations intended to help workers in nonelectrical jobs stay safe around electrical hazards.

McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.