Probably the most potentially hazardous job in a tire dealership or retread shop is that of ``tire buster.'' The holder of this position usually gets little or no training yet deals on a daily basis with what arguably is the most dangerous product in the dealership-the pneumatic tire.
Improper handling and/or not following safety precautions puts the service worker at risk every time he or she airs up a tire. Should a tire let loose, it has the potential to maim and even kill.
Two new and independent programs in Canada aim to increase the skill levels of tire shop employees by teaching novice as well as experienced technicians the skills needed to service tires safely and effectively.
At the same time, these programs strive to bring a measure of respect and pride to the important position of tire service worker.
Kemptville College in Ontario has begun an apprenticeship program, underwritten by the provincial government, to teach experienced tire shop employees how to safely service tires and wheels. The program involves in-class schooling and on-the-job training in industry-recommended practices. A key element is to build self-esteem and upgrade the image of tire technicians.
Meanwhile, in Alberta, members of the Western Canadian Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association have created a 14-week tire training course that has the potential of providing a source of certified tire technicians and giving useful skills to unemployed residents of the province. This course, taught at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, is a joint venture between the association, the school and the Canadian government.
Independent tire dealers and tire association executives might want to watch the Canadian programs carefully. Should they prove successful, they could be adapted to schools across North America.
These programs offer the promise of preventing injuries and unnecessary tire problems while reducing unemployment and improving the overall morale of tire service workers. That would be a boon to dealers and tire technicians alike.