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Published on August 17, 1998

ANOTHER TIRE WORKER KILLED. WHY?

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The ferocity and viciousness of an exploding truck tire has claimed another life, again raising some familiar questions. Why do such tragedies continue to happen?

Why are industry-recommended procedures for mounting and demounting truck tires not universally followed?

Why don't all tire dealerships regularly train their employees to prevent similar accidents?

This time, the victim was a 17-year-old high school honors student and star athlete working part-time at an independent tire dealership in his home town of Onoway, Alberta.

While the mishap's cause remains under investigation, this much is known:

The young man was checking the inflation pressure of a repaired truck tire fitted on a single-piece rim, according to the Department of Alberta Labor in Canada.

The tire's sidewall let loose, releasing a tremendous blast of air. The rim struck Dwight Peel in the forehead. He died moments later.

Investigators said the occurrence appeared to be a catastrophic zipper failure, which happens when steel cords in the sidewall of a radial-ply truck tire weaken and break.

The resulting rupture gives the appearance of a broken zipper.

It might be easy to blame this accident on youthful inexperience, but this young man had worked at the dealership for about two years as part of a school ``work experience'' program that required training as part of its regimen.

He supposedly knew his way around tire repairs ``and never hesitated to ask questions if he doubted anything,'' one of the dealership's owners said.

Busting tires is usually one of the lowest paid, yet one of the most dangerous positions in a tire dealership.

Tire dealers have an obligation to train employees in the industry-recommended practices for mounting and demounting truck tires. Then they must insist the procedures be followed.

New employees must receive the same training before breaking down their first tire.

The International Tire and Rubber Association and the Tire Association of North America offer such training information at little cost.

Dwight Peel's death should further compel all dealerships to make proper mounting and demounting procedures a daily practice.

In this tragedy's aftermath, Dwight's mother told Tire Business had she known working on tires was so dangerous, she never would have let her son take that job. And if something is not done to improve truck tire repair safety, she has vowed to make that her life's goal.

Why did this have to happen? she demanded to know.

We ask the same question.

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