Planning and Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak

March 16, 2020
How to take preventative measures in your body shop in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s hard to turn to any media outlet these days without getting hit with news of the coronavirus. FenderBender recently posted a question on Facebook to see how shops were responding to it, which led to some discussion as to what shop owners should be doing to prepare. 

Regardless of your stance, the fact is that working closely with customers’ vehicles puts both customers and staff at risk for getting sick, even if it’s as simple as catching a cold, which is why putting healthy procedures in place is key. 

Getting Ahead of it  

Bernard Swiecki, assistant director for business group, at the Center for Automotive Research, says that shop owners need to inform staff about what is going on and what the plan is. In an environment where people are all touching the same equipment and in close proximity, there needs to be an open discussion about what is happening. 

Industry Impact 

Beyond being scared for their own and others’ health, many business owners are finding themselves in a panic about what the outcome of this will mean for their overall business. The parts supply, especially, is of major concern for automotive repair shop owners. Swiecki says that he’s heard some companies are tripling the time that they expect something to arrive.

And, because of this, many are stocking up extra inventory.

The impact of the coronavirus on the overall economy is also a big concern. Many are worried that it will lead to another recession, but Swiecki points out that the decrease in the amount that people are willing to fly and use public transportation, paired with the fact that there may not be money to buy a new vehicle, may actually cause an uptick in repairs.

Tips for Preventing Exposure 

For shop owners that are in the dark about what to do, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) coronavirus webpage provides guidance to prevent exposure. 

Here's what the organization recommends for all workers: 

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.