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Auto Body Project Results

Organization(s) Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance
Project Description In 1999 Massachusetts OTA completed the CRASH Course, a partnership with the Department of Environmental Protection, the Attorney General's Office, the Regional Office of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Division of Occupational Safety, and the Massachusetts Auto Body Association. The CRASH Course defined what an inspector would consider "good faith," and it included the basics of compliance and pollution prevention.

In 1998 and 1999 the office held 9 outreach events across the state, reaching about 150 auto body shop personnel. OTA also mailed the CRASH Course to every municipal board of health in the state, and presented to local health officials at three events. The CRASH Course was delivered to every environmental inspector at DEP and EPA Region 1. A cover letter addressed to auto body shop owners and operators, signed by the agency heads of each enforcement agency, affirms that "Used properly, (the guidebook) can demonstrate to an inspector your good faith attempt to comply."

Response to the CRASH Course presentations was positive. Shops were pleased that assistance in understanding the very complex set of environmental rules had been provided. Health agents and inspectors felt that it made their job of inspection much simpler. Others noted that it would lead to greater consistency in enforcement, and to greater implementation of pollution prevention.

As part of the grant, OTA paid for an assessment of the results of the project. A survey was conducted by the Bowdoin Street Health Center in August. The results from 88 respondents showed that the CRASH Course reached a significant number of companies, and that these companies increased their implementation of toxics use reduction activities and improved their environmental compliance and safety, but there is still much work to be done. On the good side, significant numbers of companies had recently substituted less toxic chemicals, begun recycling hazardous chemicals, changed their processes to reduce hazardous chemical use, and made improvements in their record keeping and in the routine storage and handling of chemicals. But on the other side, in many categories, more than half of responders had done nothing. Twenty percent of responders expanded or began employee training to improve their understanding and management of hazardous chemicals after participating in the CRASH Course. Twenty one percent initiated employees training on pollution prevention, and others began or expanded training in the use of personal protective equipment.

The CRASH Course, therefore, influenced roughly a fifth of those receiving the materials or attending the workshops to actually change practices to enhance safety and the environment. About a quarter had recently taken responsible actions, but claimed to have done so on their own. In each category, slightly more than half of the auto body shops who took the time to respond to the survey had not recently made changes. The results of the CRASH Course survey are probably best interpreted as an indication that the provision of assistance can motivate many to adopt better practices. But the necessity for enforcement remains, to motivate the large group that does not respond voluntarily.

More Info www.state.ma.us/ota/specprog.htm#crash
Project Contact
Name Stephen George
Phone 617-626-1094
Project Keywords
Industrial Sectors Auto Body, Auto Repair
Activity Keywords Training/workshops
Newsletter Northeast States Pollution Prevention News - Vol. 10 No. 1, Winter 2000 [PDF]


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Last Modified 09/08/2009

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