The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration continues to eye dealerships for a variety of violations that if found can cost dealerships dearly.

OSHA's focus first sharpened during the recent recession, as dealership operators tended to spend an increasing amount of their time and interest on financial salvation rather than compliance to workplace safety issues.

“When turmoil happens, people move around and dealership often staff key positions with new personnel, who may be unfamiliar with all the compliance regulations to which a dealership must adhere,” says Terry Dortch, president of Automotive Compliance Consultants.

While an OSHA audit isn't a big risk for dealerships, if one is audited and found in violation of OSHA's many compliance mandates, fines can be high, up to $90,000 per violation, Dortch says.

He offers the following red flags that dealers often believe they comply with but are often found not to be and which position them to be a potential candidate for an OSHA audit:

  • The shop is not DOT (Department of Transportation) certified. Every dealership today must be, as the business handles hazardous materials, including used motor oils, activated air bags and other wastes.

  • Missing required signage, including door markings, i.e. “Exit” or “Not Exit.”

  • Missing egress or exit route maps as required by law.

  • Parts, parts shelving and crates stacked adjacent to and blocking access to electrical panels.

  • Personnel safety equipment missing around grinders, welders and similar tools and machinery.

  • Missing fire extinguishers or extinguishers not properly marked or located where easily visible.