COVID Conduct by Matt White

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Matt White is the Director of Tire Services for the Tire Industry Association (TIA). He has over 34 years of experience training technicians from all over the globe on how to stay safe on the job. Photo: Matt White

Remember when PPE meant safety glasses and steel-toed boots? Now the average person on the street is talking about PPE. They’re talking about wearing masks and gloves, using sanitizer and disinfectant to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

So now, PPE —Personal Protective Equipment—is the whole package. It’s all the equipment you wear to be safe on the job, and that includes protecting your co-workers, your customers, and yourself from COVID-19.

Occupational Health and Safety rules state that you must wear a mask in a hazardous situation. So, this is nothing new. It just means you have to adapt to the new environment, the “new normal.” You’re part of the pandemic. You can spread it several times over, and everyone is in charge of doing their part.

The tire industry has been deemed an essential service. It may be taking a hit, but there’s no denying that first line workers have to get to work. Truckers, healthcare workers, grocery store employees, they’re the ones that are keeping our society going. And tire shops, tire technicians are the ones keeping them on the road.

Tire shop safety is arguably more critical than every today. Photo: Shutterstock
Everyone has to adapt

Most tire shops are doing a phenomenal job of educating people. As soon as anyone comes to the door, they see signs about wearing a mask, social distancing, with sanitizers available for cleaning. There are fewer people in waiting rooms. Some stores have put tents outside for waiting customers. Stores are saying, we’re monitoring it, we’re safe. Everyone is getting really good at compromising.

On the floor, this may be a close contact job, but you can find ways of social distancing in the shop. Keep tire machines apart, talk six feet away, wear masks, don’t shake hands. You’re doing yourself a favour because of all the dust particles you breathe in.

And if you don’t feel well, say so. If you have a fever, don’t sit on it because you need a paycheque. You’re going to infect everyone in the shop and the shop will have to close down.

In my on-site training classes, I set the tables six feet apart. I put hand sanitizer out, provide masks and take temperatures twice a day. It’s incorporated into the training. Everyone has to adapt.

Essential workers

We’re still in the pandemic, and there’s no predicting what and when the outcome may be. It’s changing all the time, and we have to change with it. Our industry has done a stand-up job, doing the right thing, educating and protecting employees and customers, incorporating PPE into the culture, making that culture change.

We have to be there. We’re the essential workers who are part of the fight. Without tires, ambulances, fire trucks and delivery vehicles don’t roll. Doctors and nurses need to get to where they’re going. Throughout this whole situation, they’ve been the rock stars. Tire workers are behind the scenes, but we’re still essential.

But remember, those front-line workers who are putting themselves in harm’s way—they need to get their tires changed, and if you’re the tire tech who’s going into their car, protect yourself. You’re touching that same steering wheel, those door handles and other surfaces. Wipe down with disinfectant, use gloves, and all the other safety protocols that have been put in place to stop the spread. We’re all in this together.

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