Nobody is more familiar with safety concerns in a shop than the technicians doing the work. When technicians make safety suggestions, the company finds a way to implement them. The resulting culture is one of improvement through participation.
The right tools and equipment for the job are also essential to safety. The use of worn out, makeshift or otherwise unsafe tools often result in an on-the-job injury and costly worker’s compensation claim. Tool and equipment maintenance should always come before truck maintenance.
Training on new tools, equipment and vehicles also is essential. Technicians cannot be expected to work safely when they do not know the hazards involved, how things work or what to do. On-the-job lessons can be expensive when they result in injury or property damage.
Training will return more than its cost in proficiency, morale and self-esteem. Failure to train and re-train will result in the same costly mistakes being made over and over again.
Housekeeping is the mirror of a safe and healthy work environment. Technicians need to keep their work environment clean and orderly. Shop supervisors and maintenance managers should set their expectations for a neat, clean and orderly shop, and make certain housekeeping is as important to technicians as the work they do on trucks.
Safety training programs, proficiency training programs and codes of safe practices for various kinds of work and work-related hazards should be implemented. Technicians need to come to work knowing they have a responsibility to work safely and report unsafe conditions when noticed, and know that problems will be mitigated.
Nobody works in a vacuum. Everyone has a well-defined role to play regarding safety on the job.
Central Maintenance Corp. (CMC), Little Rock, AR
Submitted by Ron Gillen, director of purchasing and director of training and development
Because safety is the company’s number one priority, it has an excellent safety program and provides a safe work environment for its technicians.
To help keep safety front of mind, CMC’s foremen conduct a safety meeting with technicians before the start of every shift. Any and all personal protective equipment that is required for truck maintenance and repair is supplied to the technicians.
In addition, all technicians are kept up-to-date on all pertinent OSHA standards.
Technicians perform a lockout/tagout and wheel chock procedure on all trucks before any work is performed. Various types of materials handling equipment is available for the technicians to prevent strains and sprains from improperly lifting loads, or from carrying loads that are either too large or too heavy.
Central Garage, City of Salina, KS
Submitted by Robert Peck, fleet superintendent
Maintaining a clean floor is, perhaps, one of the most important measures for maintaining a safe shop can take. Continuous safety training is essential as well.
The Garage does not rely on the hydraulics to hold dump beds, lift gates, fork masts, etc., in place. Hydraulic systems can fail, which releases pressure, causing unanticipated releases or movements that could result in severe injures and even death.
The operation makes its own heavy duty safety props and has designed them to be located in positions that virtually eliminate dropping, closing or falling unexpectedly. Once positioned, the props are chained in place to keep them from “walking” away.
Weekly safety meetings are scheduled. Shops operate at a fairly consistent pace and technicians are not to rush repair jobs. This allows technicians time to think about what they are doing, and do what needs to be done to prevent accidents. Caution and speed do not go hand-in-hand.
The Garage doesn’t mind spending a few dollars up-front to avoid a costly accident later. “I don’t want to be the one to tell an employee’s spouse that he or she was injured or killed because we didn’t provide the correct safety measures.”