Back in the days of multi-piece (split) rims and tube-type assemblies, the job of “busting tires” was hardly considered skilled labor. Between the swinging of the hammer and the constant bending over to lift the tire and rim off the floor, it was hard work that typically appealed to someone with few options and a strong back.
The job of “tire buster” was neither glamorous nor lucrative, so it was either a last resort or a temporary position until something better came along.
The truck tire service industry wasn’t very focused on training, so the “old joe” method of on-the-job instruction could have a minimally skilled person working with a reasonable degree of proficiency within a week or two. Given the transient nature of tire busters, it wasn’t uncommon to see an entire workforce turn over once or twice a year.
There weren’t any standards to govern the industry at the time, so the industry had a “wild west” mentality that ultimately resulted in a significant number of workplace accidents and injuries.
Shortly after the federal government passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, the newly created Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was established to develop safety standards for American workers.
By the end of the decade, OSHA passed 29 CFR 1910.177 to govern the servicing of single and multi-piece truck tire and rim assemblies. The requirements included mandated training in addition to a chart that showed matching parts for rim bases, side rings, lock rings and flanges.
As a result, accidents became less frequent until tubeless radial truck tires on single-piece rims were introduced and these assemblies almost eliminated them from the national perspective.
While all this was going on, most fleets didn’t even notice. They were unaware that anyone who touches a truck tire must be trained according to OSHA, nor did they care. As long as someone showed up and fixed the tire to get the rig back on the road everyone was happy.
There were no concerns about wheel-offs, zipper ruptures, CSA 2011 or attorney’s looking to cash in on an accident. If the freight moved and the tires held air, life was good.
It’s difficult to pinpoint when everything changed, and some may argue that it hasn’t. But there is no disputing the fact that the trucking industry is much different since the government first decided to regulate the procedures used for servicing tires back in 1979. Most fleets are now aware of their training obligations so they make sure that every employee who touches a truck tire receives the minimum training required by 29 CFR 1910.177.
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) works with a lot of these fleets, and as a result of their commitment to education, they have a good degree of confidence that the tires and wheels on their vehicles are properly serviced when they leave the maintenance facility.
What hasn’t changed is the uncertainty regarding tire work that is performed outside the maintenance facility. When the trucks are close to home, and the fleet knows the company they are dealing with, the maintenance department sleeps a little better. In many cases, tire and wheel service that is performed on the road is at least carefully inspected and checked for proper torque immediately upon its return.
It’s reached the point where some fleets won’t allow a tire to be repaired on the road. They will purchase a new tire, and in extreme cases, scrap a perfectly good tire that needs a simple puncture repair simply because they don’t want to take a chance on another repair failure that takes out the mud-flap.
The fact is there are no guarantees in the truck tire service industry. Some service providers will have the people and equipment to do the job the right way and others will still be busting tires.
It used to be easy to spot the tire busters in their pick-up trucks, blue jeans and concert t-shirts. While many of them have gone the way of the tube-type tires on multi-piece rims, there are still a number of reputable companies in the business who still follow many of the tire buster principles that put everyone at risk. They just haven’t had an accident, yet.
Since 1997, TIA has been educating truck tire service technicians throughout North America. In fact, more than 30,000 people have successfully completed the Commercial Tire Service (CTS) Program. The CTS Program is divided into two areas: training and certification. CTS training is designed to teach the minimum skills that are mandated by 29 CFR 1910.177 and virtually assures OSHA compliance for training.
For those companies that want to exceed the minimum requirements established by OSHA, TIA created CTS certification. Certification involves in-depth training conducted by a qualified instructor, followed by a proctored written examination. The content revolves around a 300-page manual that outlines all of the procedures and guidelines for servicing commercial tire and wheel assemblies. The manual includes information from OSHA, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), the Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) and the Tire and Rim Association (TRA).
Employing TIA Certified Technicians requires an on-going commitment to employee training and education. The training class for the certification requires a minimum of a full day away from the shop, and in some cases it may take up to two full days to cover the material.
Recertification is required every two years to ensure that the technicians have maintained their proficiency, and comes at an additional cost.
TIA certification isn’t cheap or easy, yet hundreds of dealers have certified thousands of technicians.
In order to recognize all of the TIA members who have made the investment to train their employees, TIA has launched a new website, www.certifiedtireservice.com. The website lists all of the TIA members who provide truck tire and wheel service (approximately 1,700 across the US and Canada) but provides a special listing in red for those with at least one TIA-Certified CTS Technician.
The website is easily searchable by city, state or zip code and provides a map for every location.
Unlike other road service directories where it’s relatively easy for a tire buster to get in, www.certifiedtireservice.com is a member listing, so every company has to of at least made the investment in TIA membership. These member companies receive the TIA publications throughout the year that emphasize the importance of things like proper wheel torque and tire repair. And many of them participate in TIA’s training programs so they can ensure that all of their employees have met the minimum requirements established by OSHA.
Fleets don’t have to accept unprofessional tire work from unqualified tire busters.
Every TIA-Certified CTS Technician receives 13 uniform emblems that include the years of certification, as well as a wallet ID card that shows when the certification expires. If a technician is wearing a shirt with a valid TIA certification patch, the driver and company can be confident that the training behind that person exceeds the minimum requirements established by OSHA.
Furthermore, they can be confident that should the qualifications of the technician ever be called into question, TIA will commit every resource to defend the validity of the training and certification.
TIA’s goal is to make www.certifiedtireservice.com the one place where fleets can have confidence in the network of service providers. If a company is listed in red, then chances of getting a qualified and professional commercial tire service technician are very good.
The CTS Program is designed to provide basic training for new hires and then take the next step towards certification a year later. It ensures that every employee is compliant with OSHA training standards, and experienced technicians have received additional training.
Most of the TIA members who participate in the certification follow that model because they want to make sure every technician is qualified. They want to raise the level of professionalism in our industry and TIA is proud to recognize their commitment to excellence.
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Fleets don’t have to accept unprofessional tire work from unqualified tire busters.
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The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is an international association representing all segments of the tire industry, including those that manufacture, repair, recycle, sell, service or use new or retreaded tires, and also those suppliers or individuals who furnish equipment, material or services to the industry. TIA was formed by the July 2002 merger of the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) and the Tire Association of North America (TANA). TIA’s main office is in Bowie, MD. The association has more than 6,000 current members.