CarsSumo – We were having lunch in the breakroom of my grandfather’s garage when my aunt came running through to grab some eyewash for one of the mechanics.
He had failed to wear proper protection and had shot lubricant into his eye.
In the past, it was common to eschew personal protection equipment in a show of bravado. The chances of something going wrong were minimal, and being able to weld through squinted eyes was impressive.
These days, staff are less interested in impressing their co-workers and more interested in making it to retirement without injury.
Here are a few ideas to implement in your shop or in your home garage to make sure you and your staff have the highest standard of safety.
What is Safety?
The definition of safety is “reducing unacceptable risk.” Risk is the probability of something going wrong and harming the body.
Every employing should be introduced to this concept of probability. Sure, you might fail to use jack stands, and nothing goes wrong.
But everything is a probability. The chances or probability that something could go wrong is going to increase with each improper use of a tool.
The more frequently we are exposed to a hazard, the higher a risk we face from that hazard.
The way we work dramatically influences the probability of personal harm. If we consistently take unsafe shortcuts, those patterns become ingrained in our minds, increasing the risk that something might go wrong.
It is imperative that we identify the safest way to perform a task and that we consciously do it the same way each time. This builds the neural circuits that prevent us from harming ourselves or others.
Frequency of task completion can build complacency. Dangerous tasks must be reviewed frequently to ensure that the staff is following best practices.
Avoiding Some Of The Most Common Workplace Injuries
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Some of the most common injuries come from cluttered shops. Tooltally.com recommends using shelving and tool benches to keep everything carefully organized.
Staff must be given time to clean up their tasks. Often in the fast-paced shop, it is hard to create that time to keep it clean. This priority needs to be pushed down in the way a mechanic’s day is organized and scheduled.
Muscle strains and repetitive stress injuries are a massive danger for career mechanics.
To prevent these types of injuries, you need to make sure your staff has enough support gear to protect themselves.
Knee pads, topside creepers, and back braces can help support the body.
Additionally, taking midday walking and stretching breaks can help your staff protect themselves. Learn some basic finger stretching and body stretching techniques and make sure your staff stops once a day to take care of their muscles.
Being Hit By Falling Objects
It is not common to see a mechanic wear a hard hat in the shop, but it might be time to start considering this.
Even wearing a baseball cap can help protect the head when it is hit with lighter objects.
There are also some new hats like the 2nd Skull cap worn by football players and cyclists.
Research and invest in minimal headgear to make sure that you keep your staff protected.
Protecting your eyes is super important. No one wants to end up blind, and the medical costs associated with an eye injury can result in an expensive workman’s comp claim.
Many shops require that all employees who step onto the shop floor wear eye protection. This is a reasonable precaution.
Even go to the point that if a customer is required to wear eye protection if they step onto the shop floor. This is how our Chevy shop handles their safety procedures.
Cuts and Abrasions will hopefull be more minimal, but losing a finger at the workplace is a serious matter.
Wearing gloves can interfere with operator performance, and makes them less likely to use them.
Research and try out some gloves for your team. Investing in these pieces of safety gear can allow you to require the team to use them, protect themselves from injury, and reduce your risk to workplace claims and downtime from injury.
How To Create A Safer Workplace
- Identify The Risk – Having someone observe the staff for a week can help you identify the tasks that are done most frequently and where some of the greatest hazards are.
- Set Limits – Every tool has limits where it will fail. Make sure those limits are clearly defined for each mechanic. Where a task is done frequently, it is good to use prominent labeling and wall signs to ensure that the entire team knows what the safety limits are.
- Train – In order for a team to follow the proper procedure, it is important that safety is prioritized over speed in the company culture. Everyone from the CEO to the front desk to the shop intern should understand the importance of prioritizing safety.
- Evaluate – Unless humans are held to a high standard, they will slip back to the lowest common denominator. It is important to regularly evaluate your staff and call attention to unsafe practices to ensure that the proper neural pathways are being built through repetition.
- Train in first aid – All of your staff should be trained in first aid and should be able to follow all of the basic safety response to help their co-workers out should an incident occur.
Workplace Protection Increases Profitability
Initially, it can seem like a waste of labor hours to invest in nothing but safety. However, by reducing your workmen’s comp claims, lawyer fees and time lost, you will more than make up these savings on the back end.
As we start moving into 2020, take some time to review your safety strategy.