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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Question

Presently, our company is maintaining the floors in a grocery store - dustmop, auto-scrub, buff with a high speed propane at night beginning at 11:00 P.M. until about 4:00 A.M.. Store management wants us to change the time to 5:00 A.M. until 7:00 A.M. Store employees would sweep the floor and we would be responsible for auto-scrubbing and buffing. My question is, are there OSHA restrictions for operating propane equipment while store employees are in the area trying to stock product on shelves? There is obviously a safety factor operating equipment where workers are present, but are there any legal or regulatory restrictions?


Answer

My research turned up OSHA concerns about propane combustion emissions (carbon monoxide) and noise, both of which are addressed by the manufacturers of the burnishers. Some machines use emission monitoring devices to shut down the engine if the gases reach too high a level. Some burnishers are equipped with vacuum systems that keep dust from the operation out of the air. Quieter mufflers are in place to keep the decibels below that recommended by OSHA.
I doubt OSHA would deal with something so obvious as not running over stock clerks with the machine, but common sense tells us to use heavy equipment only in areas where that danger is dramatically reduced. The same would apply to limiting the slip-and-fall danger by not auto-scrubbing where people are likely to be walking around carrying boxes.
Aside from the fact that the two hours given you from 5 to 7 AM is very limited and allows no time for refinishing, compared to the five hours you now have to work with, I would suggest that doing this sort of work around others slows down the operation and poses obvious risks of injury. Whether OSHA addresses it or not, I would try to stay with your present schedule as a common sense way of avoiding complications you donít need.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Editor
lekrafft@juno.com