How Vigilant is your Management?

Too often, we get so caught up in the frantic pace of work and life that we forget about the importance of our jobs and may get lazy in how we go about our tasks and responsibilities. That’s just human nature.

On top of that, when things become less interesting or are routine, repetitive and tedious, attention levels are reduced. In the world of vehicle maintenance, this can lead to the possibility of accidents. So, too, can the tendency to cut corners at times, especially when things are very detailed and difficult, or when having to work in deplorable conditions.

A truck has to get rolling, but you’re short a qualified technician for the job. You decide to have a less skilled technician tackle the repair and instruct him to ask for help if he needs it, and hope he does. What could be the harm?

The technician charged with doing pre- or post-trip vehicle safety inspections skips some of the steps because he doesn’t want to be outside in the freezing rain and blowing wind any longer than he has to. What could be the harm?

Your shop has a backlog of vehicles that need maintenance and your powers-that-be have directed you to get it handled post-haste. You, in turn, incentivize your technicians - either with punishment or reward - to speed things up. What could be the harm?

Your incentivized technicians rush through their work and some may even “fudge” to get vehicles back on the road. What could be the harm?

A technician knows that the assigned driver of a particular vehicle is a stickler for keeping his vehicle in good operating condition so the technician doesn’t perform a complete inspection or maintenance. What could be the harm?

What could be the harm? Plenty. The consequences of negligent, improper or careless maintenance and repair are significant.

Obviously, timely and proper maintenance and repair not only helps to keep a vehicle operating efficiently, it prevents downtime, as well as costly and time-consuming on-the-road repairs.

More importantly, no matter how well a driver drives, that driver, and those around his vehicle, are not safe unless that vehicle is in good condition.

Negligent, improper or careless maintenance and repair might cause a part, component or system to fail at a critical moment, resulting in a crash. The more serious the accident, the greater the risk of personal injury for the driver and others, and for extensive vehicle damage.

There is also a good chance of very expensive legal actions involving the individual who worked on the vehicle and the shop.

 As I said previously, we frequently don’t often give all this much thought.

To be honest, I didn’t until I received a news item sent to me by Fleet Maintenance magazine reader Dan Weaver, service manager for Titan Construction Supply of Reno, NV. A construction supply firm, Titan Construction Supply serves Nevada and California, operating a fleet of 10 vehicles that averages about 20,000 miles monthly.

Weaver says safety is always front and center for his operation because the fleet operates in all types of weather conditions and terrain, and in some very remote areas, as well as congested city environments.

The news item, which came from Pittsburgh, PA, radio station WXPI, was entitled: Mechanic Gets Prison after School Van Crash Kills 1. Here is portion of the article:

A mechanic guilty of involuntary manslaughter following the death of a teacher’s aide in a September 2008 crash has been sentenced to two-and-a-half to five years in jail.

According to prosecutors, Mark Fabian, 33, a mechanic employed by A-1 Transit, lied when he said he checked the brakes on a school van.

The van crashed in Brookline in September 2008 and killed teacher’s aide Colleen Visconti, 58.

Fabian was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and four counts of reckless endangerment.

During sentencing on Wednesday, Fabian learned he’ll also be on probation for five years once released from jail.

Two children who were passengers in the van were also injured in the crash.

The van’s driver told investigators that she thought the brakes were repaired when she left the bus’ garage. However, the driver lost all braking power on Dunster Street and hit a tree, police said.

It is highly imperative for the safety of those behind the wheel, as well as the safety of your technicians, and for the life of your vehicles to ensure that proper maintenance procedures, repairs and shop safety measures are followed.

How vigilant are you in assuring this?

Do you have the necessary structure, policies and processes in place? Do you measure the success of these? If not, you should.

You can’t manage for improvement if you don’t measure to see what is getting better and what isn’t.



[ callout ]

Are you managing to curtail negligent, improper or careless maintenance and repair?