There are many potential hazards within a maintenance operation that can cause injury, and there are real, and costly, consequences for working unsafely. A safe work environment is a combination of both the work area and the workers themselves.
Here is a roundup of what maintenance operations around the country are doing to ensure safety.
Vehicle Maintenance Department, City of Andover, MN
Submitted by John Wallace, vehicle maintenance supervisor
The Department makes available and promotes the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable gloves and masks. Disposable nitrile gloves are preferred because they are chemically, high tear and puncture-resistant, helping protect technicians’ hands and keeping them cleaner.
These gloves also help safeguard hands against possible health issues resulting from long-term expose to petroleum-based chemicals and products.
A complete shop safety inspection is done once a month. During these, inspectors check all electrical cords for nicks and cuts, drain water separators, fill automatic oilers and check grinding wheels for safety shields, tool rest and cleanliness.
Inspectors also look at the cleanliness of the shop and make sure all walkways and all fire exits are clear. At the same time, they examine auto lifts, floor jacks, air hose reels and other shop equipment for possible problems or hazards.
Truck Enterprises, Inc. (TEI), Harrisonburg, VA
Submitted by Woody Sanders, HR manager
Truck Enterprises considers itself a leader in accident prevention and safety programs. It was the first truck dealership in Virginia, and it believes in the U.S., to qualify for SHARP (Safety and Health Achievement and Recognition Program) certification.
SHARP is an OSHA program that recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system.
TEI works diligently to promote a behavior-based safety culture through effective leadership and employee involvement. It has Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) teams at all of its locations. The teams, consisting of technicians, parts sales people, office staff, HR and managers, work together to promote and educate the workforce in safe work practices.
TEI views safety as a continuous improvement process, always looking for safer ways of doing things, better ergonomic tools and equipment and safer work practices. It provides thorough training in all OSHA standards, including hazard communication, first aid and blood borne pathogens, respirator programs, emergency response and egress, forklift and LOTO (lockout/tagout). Best practices are shared among all TEI’s dealership locations.
The company has an annual safety slogan contest. The person submitting the best suggestion earns a $50 gift card and the slogan is placed on 4’-foot by 12’-foot banners which are hung in all dealerships. The slogan is also used in all safety bulletins and communications.
The results of the continuous safety improvement process are tangible, and include lower workers compensation claims and premiums, along with lower health insurance premium costs.
Tri-State Drilling, Plymouth, MN
Submitted by Wayne Seppelt, supervisor of shops
The company bought electric hydraulic lifts so technicians no longer have to use ladders to work on trucks or trailers. Using the lift to get technicians up in the air provides a more solid and much safer work platform that can accommodate two technicians. It also allows the technicians to be mobile while working off the ground around trucks and equipment.
When using hydraulic jacks to lift trucks up to work on, technicians are instructed to always use sufficient blocking or stands to secure the vehicle, and to never trust a jack to hold the load.
Technicians are also taught to never guess. If unsure of how to make a particular repair, or how to lift or block a vehicle, or whatever else, they are obligated to ask questions and learn what is needed to get the job done correctly and safely.