Keep the Planet and Yourself Safe!

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Matt White. Photo Matt White

Everyone’s talking about going green and sustainability, but how does it apply to your safety and tire stores? Quite a bit!

For example, there’s tire recycling, which is huge in Canada. It’s regulated provincially, and it’s especially important for tire storage. Tires that are going to be recycled shouldn’t be stored outdoors where they can get water inside. That can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which carry a number of different diseases.

But it’s actually the period when you’re taking off the tire and storing them, until the time that they get picked up that is the concern for the tire shop. This is the time to be doing the homework, knowing how the regulations are in your jurisdiction, and what the processes are. It’s a lot of responsibility, and everyone wants to be a respectable recycler. 

To begin with, handling these tires can be dangerous, because you run the risk of encountering exposed steel. Keep your PPE on, especially gloves, since hand injuries are very high when it comes to handling tires.

Tetanus shot

And when was the last time you had a tetanus shot? That’s untreated steel you’re handling. If you get cut by rusted metal, you could get a nasty infection that might put you out of commission for a while. 

Many shops are recycling oil and other fluids. It’s a dirty job. Make sure you’re wearing gloves—you always see oil on the ground where some of the oil plugs are. You need to have good oil catchers in the right place.

As far as hazardous materials (hasmat) are concerned, they should be treated according to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Shops are required to have that on hand, so if you’re dealing with hydraulic fluid or something similar, to know what to do in case of an emergency, like if someone accidentally ingests it or has it splashed in their face. Make sure you also read the label to know how to dispose of these materials properly, and have safe storage for them. 


Keep in mind, it’s not just fluids and metals. When you’re repairing a tire, there’s a lot to think about. You have to clean the rim, handle it, then handle the tire. With winter changeovers, there’s a lot of oxidization on the wheels, so they have to be cleaned. When you’re cleaning wheels, keep your face mask on. I see it all the time, where there’s a big cloud of dust and techs aren’t wearing masks. They’re breathing in that dust, and so are their buddies. 

With repair materials, you’re buffing, you’re drilling, so the same applies. Think about disposing of the items you’re using, like solvent. If there’s vulcanization, you’re cleaning rubber, then you’re buffing the rubber, so you’re releasing chemicals into the air. 

Then you have to dispose of the chemicals that you’re using, as well as the brush or whatever item you used with the chemical.

Everyone needs to work together to keep the planet safe, but it’s important to remember to keep yourself, your co-workers and your shop safe at the same time. Take a minute to brush up on the rules in your jurisdiction, to make sure you know what you’re doing, and are properly prepared to do your part.

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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