Alt Bike Culture - Advice on Starting A Community Based Welding Shop.
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I am looking for some advice from one freak bike shop frequenter to a creator of one -
Me and my friend are starting a community welding shop in Salt Lake City, Utah by the name of Saltacetylene. http://www.saltacetylene.org
Some of the concerns we had were liability concerns when creating this shop.
A major concern was if the place in the worst case scenario caught on fire, that my friend who is a family man would lose his home in such an event from being sued by someone / charged by the fire department.
Our subleaser is very well versed in electricity and has been using the space for some time without problems. She told me everything is grounded, and where we will be welding has brick walls in a comfortable 700 square foot design.
My three questions:
#1. Is there insurance on the freak bike weld shop(s) you are involved with?
#2. What safety practices do you take to ensure that the freak bike weld shop(s) you are involved with are more safe?
#3. Any words of wisdom for my friend who is nervous about having a freak bike weld shop?
Thank you for your time. The more thorough you can answer my questions, the better.
See you in the streets,
salt lake city, utah
11-06-09, 07:27 PM
I'm not an expert on liability, but I would think that it would be beneficial to rent a warehouse or something for a month and balance the costs with a co-op member fee. An unattached garage or shed would be cheaper alternatives and easier to insure. Weigh the risks, and maybe you could find out a plan. If this would attract amateur and first-time welders, a facility without that much risk (or cost) would be beneficial if you wanted to start.
11-06-09, 11:20 PM
If you can avoid having to pay rent, do it. But in any case, get the cheapest place that you can.
F insurance, I doubt any of the freak bike shops/builders in PDX have any; I wouldn't hassle people with waivers either - if you are worried, just let people know it's all at their own risk up front. IMHO, posting some basic safety tips and pointers and giving some basic instruction wouldn't be a bad idea, though.
I'm the other party in this little venture. I'm a just a little worried about getting really ****ed over this whole thing, considering how litigious this country is. Maybe I'm over thinking things, but I'd really like to hear what other shops have done to insulate them from potential lawsuits and other problems that could arise out of something like this.
ask on the zoobomb web site. dutch, doc, turbo and a few others have all operated shops over the past 5 or 6 years, AFAIK they've never had any legal issues of the type you seem to be concerned about
11-08-09, 12:10 AM
I don't understand the question, exactly.
You're starting this operation in some other building, and your friend is concerned about being sued and thus losing his home, right? That is, it's not in his garage, and you're going to burn his house down?
Who is "our subleaser"? Is this someone leasing the whole building from the owner, and then subleasing 700 square feet to you and your friend?
I don't know that the burning the place down would be the big concern here, really. The owner of the place probably has fire insurance on the building. I would think where the liability comes in is when you and your friend help some third party weld a bike together and they go kill themselves on it.
From what I've read elsewhere, waivers are of limited use. Specifically, you can ask the person to sign a waiver, but that doesn't waive the rights of their heirs to sue you.
One valid defense against lawsuits in general is poverty. Most liability cases are taken on a contigengy basis, and if no one's got any money, a lawyer's not going to waste his time for free to sue you. If you're broke and your friend isn't, you might want to have stuff in your name rather than his or the both of you.
11-08-09, 12:22 PM
Isn't this why businesses incorporate, so there's a limited liability, and personal assets can't be taken in a lawsuit?
You probably ought to make sure of your safety equipment. Things like:
First aid kits
goggles/helmet rated for welding type
welding screens to protect bystanders' eyes
Whatever you decide, good luck in your endeavor.
11-10-09, 10:30 AM
Since you probably have some money available to get things like a welding machine, work bench, basic tools, bikes, the computer you posted from, and you might potentially lose all of that and lots of other things and significant time, you might consider spending an hour with a lawyer with experience in property insurance. i expect you could find a cheaper lawyer in the phone book, but some contact connected with a school, church, gym, other place where people congregate and could potentially be injured, would probably have talked to a lawyer in negotiating a lease and some insurance.
Good luck, there should be more neighborhood weld shops.
screw the lawyers, just do it!
11-10-09, 11:35 AM
screw the lawyers, just do it!
Yeah, I'm pretty sure that most of the freak bike crews have zero insurance.
Just make sure that everyone know what they're doing, and they're doing it safely, don't allow people to mess around beyond their abilities.
screw the lawyers, just do it!
It has been my experience that you don't screw lawyers, they screw you. I think for now we're just going to use the place to store ****, wrench on bikes and drink beer, mainly because the space isn't really suitable for what we would really like to do with it anyway. When we find a space suitable for a welding shop we'll move in that direction.
thanks for the discussion. we are going more underground with the project and it will be interesting to see where it goes.
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