Training for Safety

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

"Fleets are deathly afraid of the DOT or Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, or anybody with that in its name…. even the highway patrol!" he says. "'OSHA? We don't have to worry about them.' So it takes a back seat."

The difference, says Bray, is that OSHA can't take a truck off the road.

"DOT or FMCSA can remove a revenue-generating component from the company," he explains. "The odds that one of our trucks is going to be inspected is fairly high. The odds that we're going have to go through a DOT audit are very high. The odds that we'll ever even talk to somebody at OSHA? That's low on our scale of problems we'll have to deal with."

Despite this, Bray feels that most fleets are already prepared for an OSHA audit, to one degree or another. "They'll have the basics—the hazcom requirements, some of the personal safety requirements—met," he says.

"The biggest issue is personal safety," he continues. "Personal injury is the quickest way to have OSHA come knocking at your door saying, 'We're here to help you out, because you obviously have a little trouble.'"


Having worked in fleet safety before moving to J.J. Keller, Bray can cite personal examples of the worst and the best in maintenance shop safety practices.

In the "worst" category, he describes one fleet that had wash rack solvent areas, "And the technicians that worked there regularly, cleaning parts, cleaning trucks, had no glasses, no goggles, no gloves, no training. 'Here's your job: you take this stuff, you spray that off.' Well, that's taking an inch of grease off of a truck frame, with no shields, no eye protection, no gloves, no nothing. But the fleet considered that okay because all the technicians were doing was 'washing the truck.'"

In the "best" category, Bray describes one maintenance manager he knows who does safety training the right way, starting every new hire in the maintenance shop off with two full days of safety training.

"The technicians go through a full safety training session, and the company just 'eats' that; they realize that when they hire somebody they're going to have two days of non-productive time. And they emphasize to the new hire that we are more than willing to do this to make sure that you are going to be safe in your job. And in return we expect you, day-by-day as you're working here, to realize that if we're willing to give up two days, we expect you to be willing to give up five minutes, to be safe."


Fortunately, the West Virginia Department of Transportation seems to get it right.

"Safety is #1 here," says WVDOT highway equipment supervisor A. Todd Campbell. "We have safety people at all 10 state districts. They do a monthly safety meeting, and they identify safety issues. They report that to Charleston, and then if it has to do with equipment we look into it."

Based on those findings, Campbell explains, safety training will be implemented if necessary. And, as in the case of the OSHA tire safety class, trainers will be certified to go back to their own districts to educate their technicians.

"We do have trainers in all 10 districts, and they get certified as instructors every year. Then they go back and school the technicians at their local districts," Campbell says. "They'll set up instructional meetings for their guys and get them up to speed on the OSHA regulations, so they're aware of the safety concerns."

Larry Johnson, a WVDOT technician going through OSHA tire safety training for a second time, is most definitely aware. "I've seen a couple boys get hurt, and it ain't pretty," he says. "It makes you think. That's like a stick of dynamite, and you're lighting the fuse. You've got to slow down and keep your mind on what you're doing."

J.J. Keller's Bray would approve. "They just get that culture started right from the beginning," Bray says. "And with safety issues, it's a matter of culture. Get the behavior shaped using cultural input.

"Watch your people, and make sure your culture is correct, and the behaviors are correct," he says. "If you have a good culture, and you have good behavior amongst your shop employees, OSHA compliance will fall right in line.

We Recommend