The most well run auto shops out there today aren’t successful because of how much work they do—they are successful because of their stance on workplace safety and its direct impact on overall operational cost, including avoiding long term disability claims.
While the job of a mechanic most often entails the use of incredibly powerful tools on a daily basis, the most well trained technicians understand that these tools require much more than just daily use. They require attention, care, and most importantly, respect. When a mechanic embraces how to use a tool, as well as how to properly care for them, the chances of serious injury diminish as a result. But anyone who works in the automotive industry knows that the chances of serious injury are only one absent-minded move away.
Luckily, there are many ways an auto shop professional can safeguard their operation—thereby preventing long term disability and short term disability claims, not to mention skyrocketing heath insurance costs.
Here are a few ways to ensure you are protecting your employees and maintaining the highest level of auto shop safety:
Taking inventory, when able, is a great way for a mechanic to kick off the auto shop safety process. Cataloguing all of the equipment by writing down the name and location of each machine/tool is key. But so is identifying its many hazards. Take a band saw for example—while an everyday tool in an auto shop, this particular piece of equipment can be extremely hazardous and has been known to sever limbs. When taking inventory of this equipment it’s important to note these potential hazards as well as any and all built-in safety devices that could end up saving someone’s life. Instructing users to then be mindful of these safeguards can go a long way toward improving workplace safety.
Keep Track of Your Cords
It’s not rare for an auto shops to be filled with power cords and hoses of all types and varieties. It’s also not rare for that same auto shop to be come overrun with cords and hoses, so much so that it’s tricky to walk around. Having unorganized and intertwined power cords and hoses is perhaps one of the easiest ways for a worker to get injured and end up on long term disability. A thorough workplace safety manual will require all workers be trained/instructed to immediately untangle any and all electrical cords or hoses. A good solution to this all-too-common problem is to tape down any cords that stretch across the floor or along common walkways. Hoses can be easily stored by installing reels on the ceilings that allow for a quick tug, which then lifts the hose off the floor and out of the way.
Avoid Oil Hazards
Oil is perhaps one of the most used items in an auto shop. And because of that, it can pose a safety hazard—it often ends up on the floor, creating a slippery surface, so it’s a good idea to develop a clean up strategy. Oil, like most slippery substances, can be tough to clean up, however. Proper auto shop safety techniques often entail having a spill kit on hand, which if used properly can ensure a spill is cleaned up before it becomes a hazard.
Keep Your Mechanics Safe
Perhaps the biggest component of workplace safety is making sure employees take their safety seriously. A good way to do this is to create rules—such as requiring everyone wear eye protection when working in the shop. Requiring mechanics to wear eyewear to protect against hazards, safety gloves to protect from chemical exposures and other harm, and shoes with good traction to prevent falls, are all good ways to begin an auto shop safety handbook.
Do Not Allow Visitors
There is absolutely no reason for anyone who is not a mechanic or trained employee to be inside the auto shop. Tripping over things or accidentally bumping into equipment can easily injure an outsider unfamiliar with the operation of this particular workplace. Having someone who is not allowed inside an auto shop can also serve as a distraction and a mechanic who is having trouble focusing can end up being injured. Anyone who must be inside the auto shop should have an escort, as well as the appropriate safety equipment.
For further safety tips and information on how to bolster workplace safety, avoid short and long term disability claims, and cutback on overall health care costs, visit NARFA’s safety blog, or contact us—we’re happy to help you out in any way we can!