Safety is one of the most important aspects of a truck repair business, both in the shop and at roadside. Truckstop owners and managers must do everything they can to ensure their employees go home safely at the end of the day.
Here are nine ways to improve safety in the truck repair business:
Beware of Distracted Driving
Sending someone out on a road call in today’s world of distracted driving coupled with the urgency many people live their lives is a recipe for tragedy. All one has to do is drive and witness distracted driving first hand. Encourage your employees to take precautions to protect themselves from others drivers who are distracted and stress the need for them to stay focused on their own driving.
If you want help communicating this to your staff, and I encourage you do to so, show them the video titled “Death by Cell Phone” made available by the National Safety Council. You could save someone’s life.
Wear Safety Vests
Other safety concerns are reflective safety belts – Anyone in a service truck must have a Class 2 High Visibility vest on at all times.
Move Vehicles to a Safe Location
All service calls should first be moved off of the interstate to an exit ramp or side road whenever possible. If dangerous conditions exist call state patrol, sheriff, local law enforcement or the department of transportation to assist in directing traffic to help create a safe area to work in.
Equip Roadside Service Vehicles
Some states have “move over laws” that require drives to slow down or move over for emergency vehicles, and some states allow the use of red and blue lights on service trucks. If you are like many: yellow lights mean D.O.T. vehicles, tow trucks, service truck, which they equate with not getting ticketed for not obeying traffic laws. However, they also know that red and blue lights mean slow down, move over or possibly get a ticket. If the state allows red/blue lights on service trucks, I would encourage to install them.
I have recently seen L.E.D. move over arrows on trucks that swing up to deploy and swing down for transit. Those could be useful for vehicles that primarily operate on the interstate or a two-lane divided highway.
Invest in Safety Training
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has training programs Level 200 Level 400 available that meet and exceed O.S.H.A. 29 CFR 1910.177 requirements for your technicians. TIA has trained more than 50,000 tire techs and 3,000 instructors.
You should require your technicians to complete the TIA certification program, which teaches technicians how to safely service tires and help them identify potential hazards such as belt separation, zipper ruptures and why you must require a cage when inflating tires.
Lockout-tagout is a well-known safety procedure used in industry and research settings to ensure that dangerous machines are properly shut off and not able to be started up again prior to the completion of maintenance or repair work
Most auto quick lube locations no longer allow patrons in the vehicle while they change your oil or at a minimum take possession of your keys, which is designed to keep staff from getting seriously injured or worse.
The same rules must apply to your shop. The advice is not a replacement for OSHA required lockout/tag out procedures but there are some best practices that some truck repair operators are utilizing. They include placing keys in a plastic bag and storing them on a mirror, grab bar, etc. Chocking wheels on every truck, every time. If you have not experienced a driver starting their truck while still in gear, well lets just say you get my point!
Do not allow drivers in truck while working on truck as a policy. For those in the truckstop and travel plaza industry, this can create a challenge if a co-driver is sleeping, which speaks to the importance of maintaining controls of keys.
Require Personal Protective Equipment
Another area of safety is found in OSHA Regulations 29 CFR 1910, which requires the use of personal protective equipment. It basically describes the when, what, how as well as the limitations of equipment and proper care and maintenance of equipment.
PPE in your repair facility may include hearing protection, eye protection and hand protection.
Specific equipment could include safety glasses, earplugs, hard hats or bump caps, welding helmet, leather gloves and cutting torch glasses.
I would encourage you to conduct weekly safety meetings with your staff to talk about any near misses in addition to observations. This is also an excellent time for them to advise you of any safety concerns they see, such as frayed cords, chafed air lines, etc.
Nothing spells success like your employee and customers going home to their families at the end of the day.
Seek Additional Resources
Federated Insurance, a NATSO’s Chairman’s Circle members since 2011, has several safety related offerings to assist your employee training needs, which are free to anyone.
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