Employee injury is a troublesome issue facing companies today. The inability to leap over bias and complacency in the workplace often prevents any ability to fix the problem at its root. The vehicle service center industry continues to be plagued by injuries due to employees who fall and require surgery as a result. However, preventive measures can be taken to reduce the chance of an employee injured.
In this three part series we will look at simple measures you can take to decrease the number of injuries that occur at your workplace. In this week’s installment we will cover preventing slips, trips, and falls. The next two segments will cover easy way to prevent eye injury and preventing hand lacerations.
Let’s take a look at an example of an injury. During an accident review at a safety committee, say you need to discuss a recent injury such as, “An employee slipped and fell on the ice while walking to his/her car.” The first questions to ask would be, did you make a serious attempt to get to the root cause of that slip? All too often we say to ourselves, “We plowed the lot and spread salt. Is there much more we can do?” Yes, there is, you just have to take the time and make a concentrated effort. Utilize the policies below to help eliminate this type of injury.
-Develop a Foot Wear Policy
Proper foot wear greatly reduces the chances of a slip and fall. Tennis shoes do not make for good snow shoes. Develop a written policy that will go in the company handbook and made available to all employees. Then personally communicate the policy to each employee. This in-person communication provides employees the chance to voice their concerns about the policy and a chance to ask questions. Although it is not a compliance issue, it is strongly recommended to get employee policy signoffs. Confirming that each new policy was communicated clearly to every employee will be helpful if discipline for a violation is ever required.
-Inspect Foot Wear
Conduct department inspections to make sure employees have the proper footwear. Use an employee roster and check off each member that owns the proper footwear. This will ensure them that company is taking the policy seriously as any injury can affect everyone. If an employee does not own the proper footwear, then reference the PPE plan for the proper protocol. Keep in mind a $40 pair of boots is far less costly than a surgery after a fall. Also, there are some products out there that might help. Some service centers use the over-the-shoe snow spikes—which do great in the snow. However, you must take them off as soon as you get inside or you could slip very easily on a smooth concrete floor.
-Are Your Floors Clean?
Most dealerships have rain water in the service drive, ice on the lot, entry mats that have bubbled up, and debris in the shop, etc… Don’t stand by when you can be taking preventative measures. If you have the resources to do so, designate an employee to be in charge of making rounds through the facility on a continual basis: remove unnecessary trash, salt area, and roll up or tap down strung out cords. If you do not have the personnel to assign someone to these tasks, then make sure to schedule time in the day for housekeeping activities. The floors should be a part of your hazard assessment. Look for items such as:
- Do we have entry mats at each entry door?
- Are staircases coated with grit?
- Is the floor slip resistant? If not is there anything I can do about it?
- Many dealerships won’t be partial to the idea of an OEMs request depending on the material the floor is made of, but it never hurts to ask.
- Do we have the right type of spill absorbent materials?
- What is the average time it takes someone to clean up a spill?
- Put this to the test. Create a small spill (keep your eyes on it to prevent injury) and see how long it takes an employee to clean it up or tell someone.
- Are cord retractors in place? If not, why?
- One trip that would cause a back injury would most likely pay for a shop full of retractors.
- Develop a Plan That Can be Put Into Action on the Day Before a Winter Storm Arrives
A Winter Weather Plan should include the following:
- Communication of plan activation – How do we let employees know that we are activating the plan?
- Lot preparation for plowing – Will we move cars in the lot? Where do we move them?
- Equipment Location – Where are the shovels, snow brooms, salt, wet floor signs?
- Employee assignments –Who should stay home? Who will do the following: prep lot, plow, salt, check for slip mats, inspect areas, escort customers.
- Inspections and safety audits – Will managers inspect footwear? Will an employee be assigned to check a doorway each hour?
- Train Your Employees
Employees need to understand how serious a slip can be. Make certain they know how these falls can affect the bottom line, which in turn affects them. Explain the ramifications of how multiple worker’s compensation claims affect insurance premiums. If low accident rates are achieved and premiums go down, then make sure to invest some of that money back towards employee morale. One KPA resource has recently been developed to assist by creating an engaging online training program. The online training addresses how falls can affect an employee personally as well as the dealership’s overall budget.
It is clear back surgeries and workmen’s compensation does not have to be just a part of doing business. Don’t think this kind of serious injury won’t happen to your business. Further your understanding of preventative strategies and join next week’s Simple Solution to Serious Eye Injuries and learn how you can better prevent serious eye injury.
For further information on implementing preventative safety strategies, please contact your KPA representative or email [email protected]