Posts Tagged ‘safety culture’

OSHA Instills New Automotive Lift Inspections

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

silhouette auto repair small

Since 2007, 15,000 U.S. workers were treated for automotive lift, jack, or jack stand injuries, causing OSHA to implement a new program to inspect, identify, and evaluate lift safety in the auto industry. A local emphasis will be placed on the Hawaiian region beginning in July 2013.

Inspections will be conducted at randomly selected sites within the auto industry, including automobile dealers, automotive repair, accessories, and tire stores. OSHA will also respond to complaints, referrals, and incident related facilities.

Contact KPA for more information at [email protected].

Boy Dies in Truck Repair Service Shop

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Do Not Enter small

Does your facility have a policy to only allow escorted customers into the vehicle service area? What’s the policy at your facility? Do you forbid customers to enter the vehicle service area? Do you allow them in on their own? Or do you allow them to be escorted into the vehicle service area? These decisions may seem minute, but in reality they play a huge roll in safety of your employees and your customers.

PPE Hazard Assessments for Auto Facilities – Do you need one?

Friday, May 31st, 2013

hazards small

PPE Hazard Assessments, otherwise known as Personal Protective Equipment Hazard Assessments, are required at all auto facilities. What are they? PPE Assessments evaluate any hazards that may exist in your shop, what your employees do on a regular basis, what they’re exposed to, and what personal protective equipment they are required to wear.

It is possible to write your own Hazard Assessment, or, some companies, such as KPA, will provide Hazard Assessments for you.

Are You Compliant With OSHA Forklift Laws?

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Not every dealership has a forklift onsite, but if you do, you are subject to the OSHA Powered Industrial Truck regulations. Review your OSHA paperwork and make sure you are compliant with the following laws:

  1. If you have forklift, you are required to have a written training program that spells out how you will ensure safe forklift operation at your facility. This should be kept on hand for an OSHA inspection.
  2. Forklift training must be completed onsite, at your facility, using your forklift. This ensures that training is done with the same equipment employees will be using, as well as any circumstances that may be unique to your dealership.
  3. An evaluation of each forklift operator’s performance must be conducted at least once every three years, or more often if they have had an accident, or are observed driving the forklift in an unsafe manner. This includes driving, safety and requirements, and procedure training.
  4. Any attachments must have documented approval for the forklift model by the manufacturer.
  5. A basic forklift inspection should be conducted at the beginning of every shift.

Keep your files up to date and your employees trained to avoid OSHA forklift fines!

Can You Prove You’re Making Progress? (Safety Culture Tip #6)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Woman in office with binders and computer at leftWhen it comes to building a safety culture, here’s a piece of advice most dealers have heard many times: All your safety programs, processes and action items need to be written down.

“That’s obvious,” you might say, “But why do I have to invest so much time keeping records?”

Written records are necessary to follow up on minutes from safety meetings and prove due diligence during inspections. But there’s more to it than that. Written records prove to your most important constituents –your staff – that you:

  1. Really listen to employee feedback about safety risks
  2. Keep people accountable to address weaknesses they’ve reported
  3. Track progress being made on safety issues

Pay special attention to number 3. Employees who see management making consistent improvements to safety problems they’ve reported are less likely to take their concerns to OSHA. (KPA’s observed an increase in the number of employee complaints to OSHA in recent years.)

Don’t give your employees reason to pick up the phone and tell OSHA, “They’re not doing anything about XYZ…” Show them you’re making progress.

If you’re doing that already, what’s working for your dealership? How do you measure and report progress?

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety CultureTip #1 –Senior ManagementTip #2 –Safety CoordinatorsTip #3 – Accident Follow-upTip #4 – Return-to-Work PoliciesTip #5 – Employee Feedback

Could You Use More Feedback From Employees? (Safety Culture Tip #5)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Three mechanics talking by an engineLet’s say you’re trying to implement a more effective safety culture at your dealership. You’re running down the checklist: Senior management team’s on board? Check. The safety coordinator’s been assigned? Check. Quick follow-up on accidents? Check. Return-to-work procedures? Check.

Employee feedback?… Uh oh.

It’s easy for a “safety culture” to become a stream of top-down orders from management, without much feedback being sent back up the corporate food chain. And employees who don’t give feedback are less likely to report accidents in a timely manner, or new risks they’ve observed. What can you do to get them engaged?

  1. Make it easy to communicate with managers. For example, provide safety suggestion boxes.
  2. Encourage managers to initiate conversations about safety, not just wait for complaints.
  3. Give employees permission to go straight to the Safety Coordinator with their concerns.
  4. Ask employees to pick a spokesperson to represent them at the safety meetings. This could be a lead tech or shop foreman that everyone respects.
  5. Don’t let accident investigations turn into a blame-game. (I covered this more extensively in tip #3 of this series.)

If you’re a supervisor who’s trying to get your employees to provide more feedback about safety, you may find that your HR manager becomes your closest ally. That’s because employees who know their feedback is valuable to management tend to stay longer, produce more, get hurt less, and refer their friends for open positions. HR will love you!

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety Culture, Tip #1 –Senior Management, Tip #2 –Safety Coordinators, Tip #3 – Accident Follow-up, Tip #4 – Return-to-Work Policies

Are You Encouraging Injured Employees to Get Back to Work? (Safety Culture Tip #4)

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Injured man with broken leg looking into camera and smilingInjuries happen. Auto dealers who have successfully implemented a positive safety culture have created effective procedures for helping an injured employee get back to work. A lot can be done to communicate to the injured colleague that they are valued and wanted back.

Here are a couple of scenarios where it’s important to encourage employees to return to work:

  1. Injured employees who haven’t yet reached maximum improvement but are able to return to work in a transitional assignment.
  2. An injured employee who can’t fully recover from an injury, but can return to a different job.

So how do you make sure people in these situations know they can – and should – come back? Have a written return-to-work policy and give it to your employee. Set the expectation that they are wanted back, if at all possible.

This is a win/win approach to an injury: Employees feel appreciated and are more productive. Employers gain from lower workers’ comp premiums and lower staff turnover. By the way, this topic can get complicated. If you have questions, contact your HR consultant, or consider signing up for our Human Resources Management consulting service. (Just email Kathryn Carlson – [email protected]).

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety Culture, Tip #1 –Senior Management, Tip #2 –Safety Coordinators, Tip #3 – Accident Follow-up

Do You Follow Up on Accidents ASAP? (Safety Culture Tip #3)

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Red Clock with 24 HoursEven in the safest auto dealership, accidents happen. In fact, what happens in your dealership in the hours following an accident is an excellent test of your positive safety culture. Here are a few things to look for:

  1. Response within minutes, or within 24 hours.
  2. Timely notification of claims.
  3. A thorough, prompt approach to accident investigation.
  4. Investigations that focus on finding solutions, not just blaming employees.

Did you notice how these four factors work together? If a Service Manager has a track record of being tactful and fair during accident investigations, employees are more likely to report accidents to him truthfully and promptly. This, in turn, allows the dealer to handle claims in a timely manner, and find ways to prevent future accidents by holding investigations when the incidents are still fresh in everyone’s mind.

Even though accidents aren’t good, the way they’re handled can actually reinforce morale. Also, each accident is an opportunity to gather important information that may help prevent similar incidents in the future.

Has your dealership discovered some good techniques for accident follow-up? I’d love to hear them.

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety Culture, Tip #1 –Senior Management, Tip #2 –Safety Coordinators

Do You Have a Safety Coordinator? (Safety Culture Tip #2)

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Woman in Grey Sweater and Clipboard_Safety CoordinatorWe’ve all seen the slogan: “safety is everybody’s business.” No argument there. A positive safety culture requires teamwork. But there’s a funny thing about teams: if no one’s in charge of the action items, everyone assumes that it’s “someone else’s business” to take care of them. And nothing actually gets done.

Every effective safety program has a safety coordinator. In some cases, the coordinator is a GM or high-level executive. If that approach works for your dealership, stick to it, because senior management involvement is key to a positive safety culture. However, many dealerships find that the safety coordinator position is most effective if it’s filled by someone who works closely with employees on the shop floor:

  • Service managers
  • Shop foremen
  • Body shop managers
  • HR managers

A safety coordinator leads the charge each month, coordinating meetings, deadlines and action items, making sure people are assigned and accountable… basically, making sure that safety really is everybody’s business.

KPA’s seen a variety of effective approaches to this position. What’s your group’s approach? Who do you assign to the safety coordinator position?

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety Culture, Tip #1 –Senior Management

How Can the Boss Make a Difference? (Safety Culture Tip #1)

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Boss with haloWhen we try to create a “safety culture,” we often start with the people on the shop floor, where obvious hazards lurk, like electric shock and oil slicks. Actually, one of the most effective places to begin creating a safety culture is the boss’ office. (And if you are “the boss,” thanks for reading this post.)

For a safety program, the difference between success or failure is often defined by the level of senior management team involvement. When GMs, owners or CEOs are involved, the safety culture takes off. Here are some of the important ways bosses make a difference:

  1. Be present at safety committee meetings – This probably goes without saying, but the presence of top managers at these meetings sends a clear message that safety’s a priority. When something comes up and leaders can’t attend, they should review the minutes.
  2. Include safety in discussions about profitability – Safety improves the bottom line, since it reduces the risk of fines and workers’ compensation rate hikes. When the boss talks about safety and revenue in the same breath, safety gets the attention it deserves.
  3. Lead by example – When senior managers attend safety trainings, follow the same procedures that employees use, or get involved in inspection follow-up, they “walk the talk.”

Safety requires teamwork, from the top to the bottom of a dealer’s org chart. In the case of your dealership or dealer group, what can you do to help management’s relationship with the safety team?

Resources related to this blog post:
Webinar: “How to Develop a Positive Safety Culture” by Nick Hardesty
Blog posts on safety culture: Defining a Safety Culture