Archives for July 2018
On the Job Safety for Automotive Repair Shops & Mechanics
Spend much time in an automotive repair shop and you’ll gain a new appreciation for the phrase “moving parts.” These shops are full of hazards. Mechanics suffer eye injuries, lacerations, and burns on a frequent basis. Historically, this profession ranks as one of the top 20 in reportable injuries.
From routine oil changes to major rebuilds, mechanics are in close proximity with moving belts and blades, hot parts, and pressurized systems every day. Simply changing a tire requires the use of a torque wrench. Strain/sprain injuries are common for auto mechanics due to the physical nature of stretching into hard-to-reach engine compartments and torqueing away on wrenches.
For auto mechanics, burns are frequently the result of contact with hot oil, transmission fluid, coolants, grease, or spot welding. Corrosives, oils (fresh and waste), fluids, solvents, and lubricants are stored on site, often in bulk. Rubber tires, oily rags, and batteries all pose safety hazards. Vehicles inside the shop have gas or diesel in the tanks. More than one automotive shop has burned to the ground due to electrical short. These fires rage quickly out of control with the abundance of accelerants on site.
Spills require immediate cleanup. Tools should be maintained in toolboxes and not strewn around the shop floor. Air hoses should be properly coiled and stored. Customers should not be permitted to walk through the shop area. Flammables should be stored in appropriate cabinets. Oxygen and acetylene tanks should be chained upright on caddies. Hoists and lifts should be inspected routinely. Eyewash stations, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers should be located in highly visible, easily accessible areas. Labels should remain affixed to all chemicals and employees should be trained in hazardous communications.
Good housekeeping can make a substantial difference in reducing the risk of injury and improving the safety performance of automotive repair shops. Are you doing enough to protect your automotive shop?
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Call us at ((816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Fall Prevention and Fall Protection Requirements
Ladders vary greatly in both design and construction. Safety is the one thing they all have in common. A strong ladder safety program should incorporate the following elements:
- TRAINING. Train workers on which ladder is right for the job. Ladders are made of a variety of materials (wood, fiberglass, metal) and range from a small step stool to a large platform. Part of the job analysis process is identifying the correct tools for the job in advance – ladders included.
- MAINTENANCE. Routine inspection of ladders is recommended to assure stability at all times. If the structural integrity of a ladder is ever compromised, it should be removed from service immediately. Ladders should be viewed daily for loose or missing rivets, broken steps, or other damage. A more thorough inspection should be conducted on a monthly basis as part of routine facility maintenance.
- SETUP. Stability matters. Ladders should always be set on stable ground. If a ladder is being used on sloped ground, it should have a tripod stabilizer pole, and there should be a spotter on the ground with the worker at all times. The ladder should be secured at the top with hooks or a ladder stabilizer to prevent the top of the ladder from pushing away from the structure you are climbing.
- FALL PREVENTION. Train workers on how to safely ascend and descend the ladder. That starts with maintaining a center of gravity when climbing and includes 3-point contact, non-slip shoes with a defined heel, and hands-free climbing. A large number of falls occur each year due to workers carrying tools in one hand and not maintaining proper contact and balance. Workers should not over-reach and should not stand on the top step of a ladder.
- FALL PROTECTION. Fall protection harnesses are generally not required when using portable ladders, but definitely apply when climbing fixed/stationary ladders of 24′ or more in height. There are times, however, that harnesses may be warranted. For example, climbing ladder up the side of a building near an open trench. This scenario may be rare, but illustrates the importance of knowing your surroundings and utilizing the proper protective equipment for the job.
And, while it appears to go without saying, please reinforce the concept of ONE worker per ladder. Injuries caused by more than one person on a ladder are reported each year. The number is not necessarily high, but the injuries caused from these falls tend to be severe.
To learn more about ladder safety, visit OSHA 29 CFR.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our Kansas City commercial risk management firm or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Is your business prepared for a disaster? Check out this Disaster Recovery Guide from Telco for some great tips on how to protect your data and recover quickly from a crisis. Be prepared for disasters by drafting a thorough business continuity plan that addresses:
- Chain of command
- Call list of essential personnel
- Physical resources (equipment, supplies, triage resources, food)
- Master vendor and supply list, including reserve PO’s if needed
- Identification of personnel with special skills (bilingual, nursing or EMT credentials, notaries public, and other unique qualifications)
- Alternative response plans for various disasters (biological, natural, terrorism, etc.)
You cannot prepare for every scenario, but you can establish general protocols to help reduce the chaos that occurs post-event and aid your organization in a timely, organized recovery effort.
What’s the true cost of a lost-time accident?
Employee A climbs a 6′ ladder, but cannot reach high enough overhead to perform the necessary work. Rather than retrieving a platform ladder, Employee A enlists the help of Employee B. Employee B climbs the ladder. Employee A climbs the ladder and attempts to climb onto Employee B’s shoulders. All come tumbling down. True story.
Employee A suffered serious head injuries and incurred medicals in excess of $60,000. Employee B suffered strains, sprains, and contusions, and incurred medicals of approximately $8,000. Employee A was off work for several months before returning on light duty and transitioning back to full-time status. Employee B was off work approximately 2 weeks.
Direct costs of this accident include the +/- $68,000 medical treatment, the entirety of the employees’ time off, and the immediate lost production due to the incident.
What are the indirect costs of this accident? Time spent responding to and cleaning up after this avoidable incident, investigating the incident, filing and processing the workers compensation claim, time spent hiring and training a temporary employee, potential ongoing lost production due to temporary staffing and learning curves, damage to any affected property or equipment involved in the accident, cost of workers compensation wages/premiums, potential reduced employee morale, time spent completing OSHA paperwork for reportable accidents, potential OSHA fines and penalties, potential costs to defend any litigation brought by the injured employees against the company, including time and money spent responding to discovery, attending depositions, and preparing for trial, regardless of whether the case goes to trial.
Some of these costs are tangible, while others are not. An employer’s reputation, for example, can suffer tremendously when a worker is hurt and the public perceives the employer to be at fault or careless in providing a safe work environment.
While this particular accident shows blatantly poor judgment on the part of the employee and never should have happened, it did. In addition to the tens of thousands of direct-loss dollars associated with this claim, the employer suffered extensive additional losses. These indirect losses can have a serious impact on your business.
Be prepared. Take safety seriously and develop your safety policies and procedures before you need them. An ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.