Working in the tire shop is undoubtedly one of the most least-desired jobs in any fleet. The work is dirty, physical and monotonous, so it takes a special type of person to make it a career.
Too many people look down on the “tire guys” because it doesn’t take a significant amount of training to become proficient. But make no mistake, it does take training to service truck tire and wheel assemblies and it’s actually required by law in most instances.
Every worker in the United States and Canada is covered by some type of occupational or workplace safety legislation designed to protect them from injury. Regardless of whether it’s federal, state or provincial regulations, they all have “general duty” clauses that more or less say every employer must provide a safe workplace for every employee. In other words, if there is no regulation that specifically applies to the job in question, the employer is still expected to identify the hazards in the workplace so the necessary training and/or personal protective equipment can be provided.
When it comes to the servicing of truck tires and wheels, the governing body typically goes beyond the “general duty” to create specific requirements to cover the demounting, mounting, inflating, deflating, installing, removing or handling of the assemblies. Here are some brief definitions for each term:
Demounting - Physically removing the tire from the rim with tire irons or a machine.
Mounting - Physically installing the tire on the rim with tire irons or a machine.
Inflating - Adding air to the tire and wheel assembly after mounting or during a pressure adjustment.
Deflating - Removing air from the tire by depressing or removing the valve core in the valve stem.
Installing - Attaching the inflated tire and wheel assembly to the end of the axle with flange nuts, cap nuts or lug nuts and wedges.
Removing - Removing the flange nuts, cap nuts or lug nuts and wedges so the inflated tire and wheel assembly can be removed from the end of the axle.
Handling - Physically moving an inflated tire and wheel assembly when it’s in the process of demounting, mounting, installing or removing.
While there are some exceptions for federal workers and public employees in certain states, everyone in the United States that touches an inflated truck tire is governed by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulation 29 CFR 1910.177.
For those that want to see all of the standards for servicing multi-piece and single piece rim wheels, a copy of this legislation can be found at http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9825.
Here are some of the regulation’s highlights regarding employee training. Under letter (b) for “Definitions,” the word “service” or “servicing” is defined as “the mounting and demounting of rim wheels, and related activities such as inflating, deflating, installing, removing, and handling.”
Paragraph (c) of 1910.177 addresses employee training and states: “The employer shall provide a program to train all employees who service rim wheels in the hazards involved in servicing those rim wheels and the safety procedures to be followed.” It goes on to say: “The employer shall assure that no employee services any rim wheel unless the employee has been trained and instructed in correct procedures of servicing the type of wheel being serviced, and in the safe operating procedures described in paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section.”
The same paragraph includes the minimum requirements for the training program and also requires the employee to demonstrate specific tasks related to the servicing of multi-piece and single-piece tire and wheel assemblies. Finally, the employer must “evaluate each employee’s ability to perform these tasks and to service rim wheels safely, and shall provide additional training as necessary to assure that each employee maintains his or her proficiency.”