Posts Tagged ‘tips’

May Tip of the Month: Accommodating Employees with Mental Health Issues

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Compliance-Tip of the MonthMental health issues affect roughly 25% of adults in the U.S., so it’s likely that at some point you will have a dealership employee who suffers from mental illness. Accommodating mental health can be a delicate matter. Note the following tips to avoid a workplace conflict over mental health:

If the illness hasn’t been disclosed, document any odd or poor behavior that may violate the company’s workplace violence policy, or if the behavior is affecting performance or operation. Always support your employee’s needs, asking open-ended questions in an effort to address any of your concerns.

If the employee does disclose mental illness, make sure to follow policy: keep the information as confidential as possible and follow the obligations under ADA policy to accommodate the employee.

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 – kcarlson@kpaonline.com).

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

October Tip of the Month – Check the Tongue Guards on Your Grinders

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Compliance-Tip of the MonthAccording to OSHA, unsafe grinders are one of their most cited offenses. There are several common safety issues with grinders. This month, we’d like to focus your attention on the tongue guard – a small protective shield located at the top of the grinding wheel.

Each tongue guard should be positioned 1/4 inch from the wheel and the adjustment should be checked frequently. During safety inspections, we frequently find that tongue guards are missing or not adjusted properly. (See photo at right.)

The purpose of the tongue guard is to make sure that, if an object gets sucked up into the grinder, it doesn’t come back out at the top and hurt the operator. Serious injuries can occur if the guard is absent, or poorly installed.

Bench Grinder With Missing Tongue Guard

Bench grinder with missing tongue guard.

KPA Resources – How to make sure your grinders are safe:

*This poster is typical of materials provided to KPA clients. If you’re not a client, you can request more info here.