You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:What is Five S?
A: 5-S was initially made famous by the Toyota Corporation. The late Dr. Shigeo Shingo was the main promoter of this concept within TPS (Toyota Production Systems). By starting with the premise that quality often circles back to lack of organization and neatness, it is not such a difficult transition to believing that opportunity in lean materials management lies also in the 5-S concepts.


Q:How Can I certify my shop/business as "Green"?
A: For Automotive Repair Shops we recommend My Green Garage. (Click Here)


Q: What is Six Sigma?
A:Six Sigma is a business management strategy originally developed by Motorola, USA in 1986. As of 2010, it is widely used in many sectors of industry, although its use is not without controversy.

Six Sigma seeks to improve the quality of process outputs by identifying and removing the causes of defects (errors) and minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Black Belts", "Green Belts", etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets (cost reduction or profit increase).

The term Six Sigma originated from terminology associated with manufacturing, specifically terms associated with statistical modeling of manufacturing processes. The maturity of a manufacturing process can be described by a sigma rating indicating its yield, or the percentage of defect-free products it creates. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of the products manufactured are statistically expected to be free of defects (3.4 defects per million). Motorola set a goal of "six sigma" for all of its manufacturing operations, and this goal became a byword for the management and engineering practices used to achieve it.

Like its predecessors, Six Sigma doctrine asserts that:
◦Continuous efforts to achieve stable and predictable process results (i.e., reduce process variation) are of vital importance to business success.
◦Manufacturing and business processes have characteristics that can be measured, analyzed, improved and controlled.
◦Achieving sustained quality improvement requires commitment from the entire organization, particularly from top-level management.

Features that set Six Sigma apart from previous quality improvement initiatives include:
◦A clear focus on achieving measurable and quantifiable financial returns from any Six Sigma project.
◦An increased emphasis on strong and passionate management leadership and support.
◦A special infrastructure of "Champions," "Master Black Belts," "Black Belts," "Green Belts", etc. to lead and implement the Six Sigma approach.
◦A clear commitment to making decisions on the basis of verifiable data, rather than assumptions and guesswork.


Q: What is Lean Production?
A: Lean manufacturing or lean production, often simply, "Lean," is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Working from the perspective of the customer who consumes a product or service, "value" is defined as any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. Basically, lean is centered on preserving value with less work. Lean manufacturing is a generic process management philosophy derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) (hence the term Toyotism is also prevalent) and identified as "Lean" only in the 1990s. It is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes to improve overall customer value, but there are varying perspectives on how this is best achieved. The steady growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world's largest automaker, has focused attention on how it has achieved this.


Q: What can I do to start a safety program in my shop?
A: One quick and easy step is to have regular "Tailgate" safety meetings. These are relatively short (15-20 minutes) topics. Our Lean Management team can provide you with over a years worth of meetings, with hand-outs sign-in sheets.


Q:What OSHA regulations are body shops subject to?
A:It would be impossible to list every regulation (Federal, State and Local) Here is a listing of the most frequently cited standards by Federal OSHA for Automotive Repair Shops Industry Group (SIC code 753) is available.

General Industry (29 CFR 1910)
•1910 Subpart H, Hazardous materials◦1910.106, Flammable and combustible liquids
◦1910.107, Spray finishing using flammable and combustible materials

•1910 Subpart I, Personal protective equipment ◦1910.132, General requirements (Personal protective equipment) [related topic page]
◦1910.134, Respiratory protection [related topic page]

•1910 Subpart J, General environmental controls ◦1910.147, The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tag out) [related topic page]

•1910 Subpart L, Fire protection [related topic page] ◦1910.157, Portable fire extinguishers

•1910 Subpart O, Machinery and machine guarding [related topic page]◦1910.215, Abrasive wheel machinery

•1910 Subpart S, Electrical ◦1910.303, General requirements (Electrical) [related topic page]
◦1910.305, Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use

•1910 Subpart Z, Toxic and hazardous substances [related topic page]◦1910.1200, Hazard communication [related topic page]


Q:I am concerned about Isocyanates in my shop, what do I need to know?
A: Isocyanates while very hazardous can be easily mitigated in the body shop environment. You MUST train your employees on proper handling and safety measures, including but not limited to respirator selection, fit testing and maintenance. Again OSHA has some great information available (click here).


Q:What are all these terms on these MSD sheets?
A: Below you will find an alphabetical listing of various terms used in Material Safety Data Sheets. Print it out, pass it around the shop and put a copy in your MSDS index book for future reference. Remember, you can't learn too much about this subject.

ACGIH: Abbreviation for the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, a private organization of occupational safety and health professionals. The ACGIH recommends occupational exposure limits for numerous toxic substances, and it updates and revises its recommendations as more information becomes available. ACGIH limits are not legally enforceable.

Air Contaminant: Means solid or liquid particulate matter, dust, fumes, gas, and mist, smoke or vapor.

BAAQMD:Bay Area Air Quality Management District. An agency created by California state law to be responsible for management of air quality in the San Francisco metropolitan area.

Carcinogenic: Capable of causing cancer.

Ceiling Limit: The maximum amount of a toxic substance allowed to be in workroom air at any time during the day.

CERCLA: Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (the original Superfund law). Certain releases of over 700 chemicals covered by this law require reporting to state emergency response commission, local emergency planning committee, and the National Response Center.

CFR: Code of Federal Regulations.

CHEMTREC: Chemical Transportation Emergency Center. A public service created by the Chemical Manufacturers Association to provide 24 hour information to persons responding to emergencies involving chemicals.

Chemical Referral Center: A part of the Chemical Manufacturers Association which provides general, non-emergency information about chemicals through an 800 toll-free telephone number.

Combustible: Able to catch fire and burn. Materials with flash point above 100°F (Closed Cup Method) (D.O.T. regulation)

Concentration: The amount of one substance in another substance.

Decomposition: Breakdown of a chemical.

Density: The mass of a substance per unit volume. The density of a substance is usually compared to water, which has a density of 1. Substances which float on water have densities less than 1; substances which sink have densities greater than l.

Dermal: By or through the skin.

DOT:U.S. Department of Transportation.

EPA:Environmental Protection Agency

EPCRA: Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. A free-standing law enacted to encourage and support emergency planning efforts at the state and local level, and to provide citizens and local governments with information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their communities.

Explosive Limits: The amounts of vapor which form explosive mixtures. Explosive limits are expressed as LOWER EXPLOSIVE LIMITS and UPPER EXPLOSIVE LIMITS; these give the range of vapor concentrations in air which will explode if heat is added. Explosive limits are expressed as percentage of vapor in air.

Flammable: Catches on fire easily and burns rapidly. Materials with flash point below 100°F.

Flammable Limits: Same as EXPLOSIVE LMITS.

Flash Off Area: Space between the application area and source of application.

Flash Point: The lowest temperature at which the vapor of a substance will catch on fire, even momentarily, if heat is applied. Provides an indication of how flammable a substance is.

Fluid Ounce: Volumetric unit. 128 Fluid ounces = one American gallon.

Gram: The unit of mass in the metric system.

Health Hazard: Anything which can have a harmful effect on health under the conditions in which it is used or produced.

HMIS: Hazardous Materials Identification System

Hydrocarbon: Any organic compound consisting predominantly of carbon and hydrogen.

Ignition Temperature: The lowest temperature at which a substance will catch on fire and continue to burn. The lower the ignition temperature, the more likely the substance is going to be a fire hazard.

Ingestion: Swallowing.

Kilogram: 1000 grams = 2.20 lb.

LC50: The concentration of a substance in air that causes death in 50% of the animals exposed by inhalation. A measure of acute toxicity.

LD50: The dose that causes death in 50% of the animals exposed by swallowing a substance. A measure of acute toxicity.

MG/KG: A way of expressing dose: milligrams (mg) of a substance per kilogram (kg) of body weight. Example: A 100 kg person given 10,000 mg of a substance would be getting a dose of 100 mg/kg (10,000 mg/100 kg).

MG/M3: A way of expressing the concentration of a substance in air: milligrams (mg) of substance per cubic meter (m3) of air.

Milligram: One one-thousandth of a gram.

NFPA:National Fire Protection Association

NIOSH: Abbreviation for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIOSH does research on occupational safety and health questions and makes recommendations to OSHA.

N.O.S.: Not otherwise specified. Used for shipping hazardous materials if the material is not specifically listed in the DOT Hazardous Materials Table.

Occupational Exposure Limits: Maximum allowable concentrations of toxic substances in workroom air to protect workers who are exposed to toxic substances over a working lifetime.

ORM: Other Regulated Material. A material which poses a risk in transportation, but does not meet the definitions of any other hazard classes.

OSHA: Abbreviation for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. OSHA develops and enforces federal standards for occupational safety and health.

Oxidizer: A material which may cause the ignition of combustible materials without the aid of an external source of ignition or which, when mixed with combustible materials, increases the rate of burning of these materials when the mixtures are ignited.

PEL: Permissible Exposure Limit.

Polymerization: A chemical reaction in which individual molecules combine to form a single large chemical molecule (a polymer). Usually involves the release of a lot of energy.

PPM: Parts per million. Generally used to express small concentrations of on substance in a mixture.

Prime Coat: First film of coating applied in a multiple coat operation.

Proposition 65: California's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Regulates certain chemicals known to the State to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

RCRA: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Act which regulates the handling, storage, treatment, transportation and disposal of solid waste.

Reactivity: The ability of a substance to undergo change, usually by combining with another substance or by breaking down. Certain conditions, such as heat and light, may cause a substance to become more reactive. Highly reactive substances may explode.

SARA: Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. Title III of SARA is known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. Calls for facilities that store hazardous materials to provide officials and citizens with data on the types, amounts on hand, and specific locations of these chemicals.

SCAQMD:South Coast Air Quality Management District. Agency created by California state law to be responsible for management of air quality in Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Sensitizer: A chemical that causes a substantial proportion of exposed people or animals to develop an allergic reaction in normal tissue after repeated exposure to the chemical.

SIC: Standard Industrial Classification.

Solubility: The amount of a substance that can be dissolved in a solvent, usually water.

Solvent: Organic materials which are liquid at standard conditions and which are used as dissolvers, viscosity reducers or cleaning agents.

STEL: Short term exposure limit.

Suspect Carcinogen: A substance that might cause cancer in humans or animals, but has not been proven to do so.

TDG: Transportation of Dangerous Goods.

Teratogenic: Capable of causing birth defects.

Thermal: Involving heat.

TLV: Abbreviation for Threshold Limit Value. The average 8-hour occupational exposure limit. This means that the actual exposure level may sometimes be higher, sometimes lower, but the average must not exceed the TLV. TLVs are calculated to be safe exposures for a working lifetime.

Top Coat: The final film of coating applied in a multiple coat operation.

Toxic Substance: Any substance which can cause acute or chronic injury to the human body, or which is suspected of being able to cause disease or injury under some conditions.

Vapor: The gas given off by a solid or liquid substance at ordinary temperatures.

Vapor Density: The density of the gas given off by a substance. It is usually compared with air, which has a vapor density set a l. If the vapor is more dense than air (greater than 1), it will sink to the ground; if it is less dense than air (less than l), it will rise.

Viscosity: A relative measure of how slowly a substance pours or flows. Very viscous substances, like molasses, pour very slowly. Slightly viscous substances, like water, pour and splash easily.

VOC: Volatile organic compound. Volatile compounds of carbon.

Volatility: A measure of how quickly a substance forms vapor at ordinary temperatures.

WHMIS: Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System. Canadian system for providing information to workers on the adverse effect of hazardous materials through cautionary labeling. Material Safety Data Sheets and employee training.


Q: Where can I get more information?
A: Our Lean Material Management web site (safety page)
A: The Federal OSHA web site (Auto Repair Shop page)


Related resources

More than Cars and Trucks

While we have a significant number of clients in the automotive aftermarket. We do works with other industries as well. Some of our other clients have been:

  • Light Manufacturing
  • Call Centers
  • Warehouse Distribution
  • Equipment Refurbishment
  • Construction Supply
  • Auto Body Shops
  • Medical Equipment
  • Service Centers