Terry McDonald: Site Safety

Customer service counts, and making pickups and deliveries can be part of that package, but be sure to train your drivers for the benefit of everyone on the road.

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Remember, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. It is one of the nicest things you can do for your fellow employees, as well as your family. February is the shortest month of the year, and for many of us it’s also the coldest with the nastiest weather, and the most boring. Is there anything that we as safety professionals do that will keep our fellow employees safer during this time of distractions and SAD (seasonal disafective disorder)? Neat and orderly surroundings can definitely help.

I think that this is an appropriate time to emphasize shop organization and cleaning. We obviously need to keep our shops in order not only to promote better production, but also to avoid messy situations from a health and safety standpoint. How often do we spend too much time hunting for a tool, or inspection fixture, or even the proper oil? After looking for a time our employees will often “make do” without the correct item simply because of the time wasted trying to find it. This can lead to bad parts, or even worse, a serious health or safety hazard. Organization is simple to achieve, but it is often ignored in favor of pressing production demands. We must be careful of this pitfall. Another one that I have experienced is when an employee “puts things away” in a spot that only he or she knows about. This can be even worse than when items are just left laying about. If that particular employee is absent for any reason you may not be able to find what you are looking for at all which, of course, can cause definite problems. This month, coming so early in the year, is an excellent time to put our shop—and our priorities—in order.

A subject concerning safety that we have not covered in this column in the past has to do with your employees who drive to either deliver or pick up parts for jobs you’re doing for your customers. Most gear shops that I am familiar with have some sort of pick up and delivery service, at least for their local customers. This is a service that our customers find very valuable, and we are pleased to be able to offer it. But this service puts another strain on our safety budget, from the standpoint of insurance that we must carry for our drivers in order to offer these deliveries to our customers. It also means that our safety personnel have another venue that they must remain conversant with and must develop methods of training the people involved. Believe it or not, not everyone knows how to drive, and even more do not know how to drive safely. Remember, by offering this driving service we not only have our employees’ safety to think about, but that of everyone out on the roads that could be harmed in an instance of inattentive driving while performing the duties we have assigned. This can be a very serious undertaking, and we normally approach it as just another service we offer. Your safety program must cover this activity, and the personnel assigned to this duty must be properly trained. Too often I see that the driver is the “new kid,” and this is a way to keep him or her busy. They are given no training. If they have a valid drivers license, they are deemed to be qualified. No pun intended, but this is a very dangerous avenue to go down. If you’ll consider getting your drivers professionally trained it will lower your insurance costs, and also allow you to sleep better knowing that the vehicle you have out there for your business is in the best possible condition to minimize risks to both your employees and everyone sharing the road with them. This is especially important if they are driving a vehicle sporting your logo, because how they conduct themselves will play into the impression people in your city have of your company. I am always amazed when I see someone speeding or driving carelessly in a company car or truck, and it makes me wonder about a company that would hire someone who drives without thinking of the safety of others.

In closing I would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to communicate your thoughts with me concerning these columns. Each year brings new safety concerns, whether they involve new materials we are exposed to in the workplace or technologies such as smart phones that are so enticing to use on the job. If there are any subjects that you would like covered please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address listed at the end of this installment. Here to a safe and healthy New Year! 

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is partner and manager of Repair Parts, Inc., and a current member and past–chairman of the American National Standards Institute B11.11 Subcommittee on Safety Requirements for Construction, Care, and Use of Gear Cutting Equipment. McDonald writes this monthly column specifically for Gear Solutions magazine, and he can be reached at (815) 968–4499 or rpi@repair–parts–inc.com. The company's Web site is [www.repair–parts–inc.com].