Training for Safety

OSHA safety training is a priority for State of West Virginia vehicle technicians.


CLASS INVOLVEMENT

Faubion's training approach seems to work, because the WVDOT technicians remained involved in the class from beginning to end, asking and answering questions, digging into the worksheets and exams, and taking advantage of all the materials Faubion had with him.

"I think it's real good, especially after you become a supervisor, because you don't want one of your people to get hurt," says Bob Pritts, equipment supervisor for WVDOT District 5. "When I started as a mechanic, my father told me that the way to change these 3-piece rims is, you turn it upside-down and you sit on top of it. That's how I was told. The trainer said, right at the beginning, the reason they're doing this is because the people who have been doing this for 30 or 40 years keep telling the newer people the wrong ways."

"A lot of this is interesting to me, because I've never been too involved with tires or safety," says Roger Channell, highway equipment specialist for WVDOT District 8. "But I'm a trainer, so I'm taking this back to my 18 techs."

"First thing I'm going to tell my guys is, 'If you're not trained, you're not going to change a tire,'" says Pritts. "And I know we just hired two and they didn't have enough seats to get them in this class, and I know one of them has already changed tires on a vehicle—I will call back before I leave here today and tell them, 'These two guys don't change any more tires until they've had this class.'

"It's great that the state cares enough about us that they want to keep us safe," Pritts concludes.

OSHA CALLING

Of course, tire work is only one small part of the safety picture. Accidents can happen anywhere in the fleet maintenance shop, and an accident will bring an OSHA safety inspector to your door pronto. Is the average fleet ready for an OSHA safety audit?

To find out, we talked with two OSHA compliance experts at J.J. Keller, a leading safety training company based in Oshkosh, WI.

According to Mark Stromme, safety & workplace editor, there are four reasons why OSHA will conduct a workplace safety audit.

"If there's an accident or fatality, you can count on OSHA making a visit, especially if it makes the news," he explains. "You are required to report an accident within a certain time period, but essentially, if it makes the news they're going to be there.

"Another reason OSHA would come and inspect your facility is if someone complains; they feel they're threatened or in danger in your workplace, they call OSHA and OSHA will come out. They do that relatively fast—within a day or two. Because if they don't and somebody gets hurt, they wouldn't be doing their job.

"Another reason they would come would be if your company falls into one of the 'high hazard' industry areas," Stromme explains. "I don't think fleet maintenance shops do, so you'd probably be fine there.

"Lastly, OSHA will come for follow-up inspections if they've been there before and they want to check up on things," he concludes.

SAFETY COMPLAINT

In Stromme's experience, the most common reason for OSHA to conduct a safety audit of a fleet maintenance shop is a worker complaint.

If an OSHA inspector comes to investigate a worker complaint, he or she will tell you the reason for the safety audit, but not the identity of the complaining worker.

"As soon as they get to your facility, your safety professional should be prepared to meet with them, and should have gone over this scenario in his or her head already," Stromme explains. "You sit down with them in an office, and they will normally want to look at your record keeping requirements, your OSHA 300 log, and your training requirements. That could take 15 minutes, it could take an hour; it depends on how big your facility is, and what you do, exactly. The more hazards you have, the more training requirements you're going to have. And they may only be focusing on one area; they may not want to see everything.

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