Double Down on Safety! by Matt White

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Matt White Photo: Matt White

Don’t overlook everyday safety procedures.

Since the pandemic started seven months ago, accidents in our industry have risen substantially.

From last year at this time, there have been a couple more fatalities. Folks simply aren’t observing all the safety protocols. That means not just the COVID-19 regulations, but also the safety standards you need to practice when taking care of cars. If you go back to your old ways, not practicing safe tire installation procedures, someone will get hurt.

We’ve been through a lot, just being closed during the busy season, which hurt a lot of businesses. Unfortunately, training was one of the first cuts. I had a conversation with a human resources representative about this. As a result, we started doing Zoom classes, reminding people of what was at stake.

So it doesn’t mean you have to stop training. You have people in place. As long as you have the ability to do online classes with your team, this is the time that you should be doing even more training. You need to add in specific procedures for COVID-19 as well.

Normal safety procedures

Even though you’ve got greasy hands, and have been working straight through your lunch, you put hand sanitizer on. It’s a hard thing to think about – what happens when I put the jack stand-in? What if a commercial truck tire is under-inflated? Where’s my hand sanitizer? Where’s my mask?

We cannot forget that we still have to follow CDC guidelines but we also have to follow our normal safety procedures around tires. You need to get back to basics. You can’t cut corners. Sure, you have a lot to do before you even get in the car – wiping it down, making sure all the techs are social distancing, even taking temperatures.

Lead by example. Continue to do your safety, like putting jack stands under cars. And take care of yourself. Get a flu shot. The reality is that COVID-19 is an immune disorder. The weaker you get, the more vulnerable you can be. You also need to think about your family at home.

Pandemic pressure

Wearing a mask is not enough. You could be getting into a car of an infected person, who may be asymptomatic. Wiping down steering wheels, any components you have to touch, as well as wearing your mask, is a big deal. By the same token, you might be asymptomatic, and pass it on to someone who’s high risk if you don’t wipe down the vehicle after service. Just because you don’t feel bad does not mean you weren’t exposed to the virus.

Even a simple thing like asking customers to wear masks, having social distancing stickers, and separating chairs in a waiting room. The truth is, there are customers who are staying away from businesses that aren’t doing that. They don’t want to get infected.

Now in winter season, you’re not only dealing with the stress of the pandemic but also pressure from customers who want their vehicles winterized. You’re really going to have to be careful. You may want to put in an outside waiting area, which is challenging in the cold weather.

This pandemic is far from over, we’re already dealing with a second wave. If anything, you have to take extra precautions. Take care of yourself, and take care of your customers.

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.

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