Archive for July, 2011

Monthly Facility Inspection List

Friday, July 29th, 2011

As the last business day in July, today is a great day to take care of your monthly facility inspections.

There are a few items in your dealership that need to be inspected and updated every month. There should be tags on these items for signatures and dates. These are safety inspection items, and federal law requires that they are monitored and maintained by the dealership on a monthly schedule. Here’s the short list:

Monthly Facility Inspection Checklist
Emergency lighting (short test)- make sure all exit signs (aka luminaries) are present and clean. Activate the system long enough to test each exit sign. Document defects and corrective actions. Check each exit sign for functional back-up system. If necessary, replace back-up power sources (battery packs).
Above Ground Storage Tank- Make sure monthly inspections are conducted as required by SPCC regulations.
First Aid Kits- Check the contents and make sure supplies are accounted for, and at the correct level. Make sure first aid kits are properly mounted and accessible. Sign and date inspection card.
Elevators with a phone or fire department call button- The requirement does not specify who is to perform the operation- maintainence company, elevator inspector, equipment owner or lessee- only that it is performed and that a written record of findings is kept on premises. Periodically, circuts and relays should be checked.
Eyewash stations- Check signage, make sure area is clear and the station is accessible at all times. It should be clean and ready for an emergency. Check portable stations for fluid expiration dates. Sign and date the inspection card.
Fire extinguishers- needle should be in the green, inspect for signs of damage or use. Make sure extinguisher signs are present and extinguisher is properly mounted.
Lifts- perform leak test: check for functionality, oil level and leaks in rolling bridge, wheel free, valves and hoses. Check moving parts for excess play, wear lubrication, and grease. Test switches and terminals to make sure the electrical components are in good shape. Check for overall condition including rust, damage wear, and alignment. Make sure decking and covers are secure, check anchor bolts, and all safety features for functionality.

Depending on your size, kinds of services that you offer, and your location, there may be other monthly inspection items that are part of your dealership’s safety responsibilities. You should talk to your KPA safety engineer to find out about other monthly inspection requirements specific to your state or local area.

It is also a good idea to keep an eye on other time-sensitive inspection items that need annual or periodic inspection and documentation (fire alarm systems, oil/water separators, new product tanks, lift inspections, permit renewals, waste storage areas…); they may need attention soon.


Chaos and Worker Safety

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Managers are accustomed to making data driven decisions for worker safety. They use the best information available, set company policies, and workers are responsible for following the rules. And in the past, that was enough.

Today, managers must apply regulatory interpretations and create safe work environments that reduce risks from a multitude of hazards, from the traditional; hazardous compounds, and physical dangers, to more complex hazards, such as establishing contingency plans, dealing with regulatory inspections, creating injury and illness prevention plans, building safety cultures, and mitigating workplace violence.

Worker safety is no longer a closed-loop system. It is now part of an ever-expanding, dynamic and open system. As a result,efforts to foster a safe and productive work site can be embraced or destroyed by internal or external pressures, and outcomes can be wholly unpredictable.

We may not want to admit it, but there are many aspects of modern worker safety that we simply can’t control. For this reason, many dealerships are using risk management strategies that seem more like attempts to control chaos than anything close to a traditional management strategy.

Which raises a valid question: Is there anything we can learn from chaos theory?

Chaos theory is the mathematical study of systems that are apparently disordered. But what chaos theory is really about is finding the underlying order in seemingly random occurrences.

As it turns out, a key principle of chaos theory is that outcomes of any dynamic system are highly dependent on initial conditions. In fact, despite their chaotic nature, dynamic systems may be completely dependent on initial conditions of the system.

It seems to me that if we use chaos theory as a guide, then there is hope for the decision maker, after all. By controlling “initial conditions” of the work environment, and using an appropriate risk management strategy, we can still control our own destinies, and our worker’s safety. In fact, this is what risk management is all about.

You Can’t Teach a Young Dog With Old Tricks

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Here’s what you already know: technology is intrinsic for most Gen Y workers. Furthermore, for most of them, a day isn’t complete without texting, facebook, twitter, foursquare, or other information stream of choice.

According to a new poll from Public Policy Polling, this daily technology immersion changes the way a young person learns. You can reach them more effectively through a training program that speaks to their basic learning needs.

Trainer’s Takeaways:

  • Get mobile, and think outside the classroom. Young workers value location freedom. They prefer learning through hand-held mobile devices or laptops.
  • Keep training sessions short, or give frequent breaks. For all age groups, the first 15 minutes and last 5 are the most retained. If you can’t shorten the session, arrange it so that important information is covered during these learning windows.
  • Interaction is king. The more interactive the training is, the more engaged the young students will be. Remember Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences? It holds true for this generation, and using multiple channels to reach your audience  training exercises.

These findings don’t mean that young workers don’t want to learn. The findings only indicate that a little accommodation  strengthens your training program by reaching students through their preferred learning style.

The Disclaimer:
By nature, polls can only measure general trends. There are exceptions to every generalization, and some of them may be working at your dealership.

The Training Challenge:
The bottom line is that your safety programs are not effective if your students are tuning out during an important presentation. Small accommodations go a long way, especially if you’re noticing behavioral trends in your employees that mirror findings from this poll.

The complete poll, titled “Corporate Voices National Worker Surve” is available here:

IRS Revises Mileage Reimbursement Rate for 2011

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

In Announcement 2011-40, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)  has revised the optional standard mileage rates for computing the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business purposes.  While gasoline costs are a major factor the IRS also considered depreciation and insurance and other fixed and variable costs when revising the rate from  $0.51 cents per mile to $0.55 cents per mile effective July 1, 2011. If your employee handbook follows the IRS optional standard mileage rates, please be sure to adjust your business mileage reimbursements.

The new six-month rate for computing deductible medical or moving expenses will also increase by 4.5 cents to 23.5 cents a mile, up from 19 cents for the first six months of 2011. The rate for providing services for charitable organizations is set by statute, not the IRS, and remains at 14 cents a mile.

Mileage Rate Changes

Purpose Rates 1/1 through 6/30/11 Rates 7/1 through 12/31/11
Business 51 55.5
Medical/Moving 19 23.5
Charitable 14 14

The Number One Least Asked Question at Your Dealership…Why?

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

In business, the “why?” tends to get lost in the shuffle. We understand the how and when of our jobs, but too often the why remains unanswered, or it is “You have to do it because that is what everyone else is doing.”

Which leads to the question, “Why is safety culture important?”

This is an important question, because to date, most companies have made a business out of ignoring everything but the bottom line. We can’t have a meaningful discussion about caring for worker safety if we don’t know why doing so is a business advantage. This new report at EHSToday, helps answer why. It shows links between safety culture and improved productivity, quality and competitive position.

This concept moves us from measuring safety as specific outputs (such as low total recordable case rates), to understanding how to build an organizational system that effectively analyzes and controls the hazards associated with the organization’s operations.

This report reminds me of articles about quality control systems when Japanese auto companies shifted away from measuring specific outputs (such as low deviation rates), to concentrating more on understanding, controlling and improving processes used to accomplish work at a higher quality. This of course, resulted in the entire manufacturing industry changing its approach to quality control.

And it all starts with looking at business processes, and answering a simple question… Why?

Compliance Tip of the Month

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Training Requirements for Dealership EmployeesTraining Requirements for Dealership Employees
The quick guide to training: who needs it, in which areas and departments, for which enforcement agencies, and how often each training requirement must be renewed. Check the list at