Preventing losses and protecting the bottom line of your automotive business requires active participation. While it is true that you can contact your insurance company for safety or loss prevention help or request an inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), continuous inspection, monitoring and follow up by a designated employee are the best ways to help yourself stay in business.
One way to help accomplish this by establishing a self-inspection program. It is important to note; however, a self-inspection program is only part of a comprehensive safety program. A full safety program should also include safety meetings, accident investigation, safety training and workplace rules.
The primary objectives of a self-inspection program are to identify physical hazards and unsafe acts by employees, document these problems and allow for corrective measures to be taken. It is a very basic concept, find unsafe conditions or uncontrolled exposures and fix them before they can cause an ―accident‖ or loss. You will find it difficult to prevent accidents unless you make an effort to eliminate the conditions that contribute to them.
Below are some essential elements of a self-inspection program:
- The dealer or general manager should establish the program in writing, citing the need to maintain a safe workplace, protect employees and control losses.
- Develop an inspection checklist to guide employees when completing inspections. Completed checklists should be submitted to the designated person responsible for the program.
- Select and train designated individuals on the program (parts and service managers are often used) to coordinate the inspection process.
- Involve additional employees or safety committee whenever possible to raise the overall level of awareness at the dealership.
- Perform inspections on a regularly scheduled basis, monthly or quarterly is recommended. Conditions in the sales, parts and service departments change almost daily, so it is important to conduct inspection tours on a regular basis.
- Concentrate on identifying unsafe conditions or uncontrolled exposures that could lead to injury or property damage. Include OSHA compliance issues on the checklist as well.
- Follow-up is absolutely essential, so initiate procedures to ensure prompt action to correct any deficiencies noted. The program will fail if problems are identified, but no action is taken.
- Maintain copies of these reports for documentation and follow up purposes.
- Institute an accident investigation program in conjunction with the inspection program. Their goals are similar — identify and correct problems to prevent future accidents.
A successful inspection is dependent on a good checklist. The more detailed and specific the checklist, the better the results. A good checklist will provide a more focused approach by reminding the employee performing the inspection to look for specific problems and situations.
So, what does one of these checklists look like? Checklists are available from the OSHA website (www.OSHA.gov) but should be modified by adding items specific to your business.
An inspection checklist should be divided into sections according to area of the workplace or by loss exposure. The following are ideas for organizing a checklist for your automotive business, and a few examples of items found under each section:
- Key control – all vehicle keys reconciled and accounted for at the end of each day.
- Inventory keys secured and monitored throughout work day.
- Remove keys from unattended vehicles.
- Perimeter security – fencing, entrance gates, nighttime lighting.
- Flammable liquid storage in service and body shops.
- Welding and cutting operations.
- Electrical cords and panels.
- Portable fire extinguishers.
- Equipment guarding, i.e. compressor belt guards, bench grinders, etc.
- Housekeeping throughout dealership.
- Condition of hand and power tools.
- Personal protective equipment – eye protection, respirators, gloves, etc.
- Customer waiting areas or lounge.
- Handicapped access (Americans with Disabilities Act).
- Lot-condition, lighting and security.