ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (Feb. 17, 2003)—Did you know that on average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year?
Only one person in 2 billion will live to be 116 or older?
The average life span of a major league baseball is seven pitches?
The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps to squirt blood 30 feet?
Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are al-ready married?
You did? Well then, what do those five facts have in common? Answer: They all have something to do with limiting a person's longevity. (OK, the third question was a trick.)
Increasing a person's longevity is something we all care about, especially if we are talking about our own, our family's and our employees'. Every tire dealership that operates a service truck or has tire-changing operations within its walls has to be concerned about employee longevity—which translates into safety on the job.
With the brutal cold and snowy winter most of the country is having this year, tire servicing has never been more difficult, harsh and treacherous. It's more important now than ever that proper safety procedures are followed when servicing tires on the road. Your employees' lives depend on them.
Every tire service safety program should include a daily inspection of the service truck. Reflectors and lights should be checked every day. That includes head- lights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals and amber beacons. Windshield wipers, wi-per fluid and the horn also should be checked daily. Tire pressure and tread depth should be checked regularly as well.
Because service truck air compressors, articulating booms and tire hands require regular maintenance, they need to have periodic inspections. Having equipment that does not work right or just doesn't work at all when you are on the side of the road in 6 inches of snow and in 18-degree weather will really put a good technician in a bad mood. And it could place him or her in a dangerous situation.
The safety equipment stored on the service truck also should be inspected to ensure it's operational as well as to make sure it's being used. A properly equipped service truck should have the following tools and materials to provide the technician with what he or she needs to work safely:
c A pair of goggles and ear protection.
c A pair of heavy-duty work gloves.
c A first-aid kit including bandages and eye wash.
c A portable, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-approved tire inflation cage.
c An in-line inflation device with pressure gauge.
c A fire extinguisher (10BC or 1A 10BC).
c A set of three reflective triangles, emergency flares or lanterns.
c A box of clean rags or towels.
c A 20-ton jack.
c A 12-ton jack stand.
c One or two metal plates for under the jack and jack stand.
c Two wheel chocks.
c Cribbing and blocking material.
If protective clothing and goggles are missing, they should be replaced. If the fire extinguisher has been used, it should be re-charged or replaced right away.
The first-aid kit should be checked routinely to ensure that it is intact. Flares, lanterns and reflective triangles should be checked every day before heading out for the day's first service call.
Don't overlook tire cages. OSHA requires that safety cages be inspected on a daily basis. If any damage is evident, the cage must be removed from service.
Remember, a damaged cage cannot be returned to service until it has been repaired and recertified by the manufacturer or a registered professional engineer. That's to ensure it has the capacity to withstand the maximum force that would be transferred to it during a tire and rim separation occurring at 150 percent of the maximum tire pressure. If you have a damaged cage, it's cheaper and faster just to get a new one.
Make sure the clip on the clip-on chuck for the remote inflation device works, too. This can wear out and end up popping off the valve stem. It's imperative that the technician has enough inflation hose to stand well off to the side during inflation and out of the trajectory or blast zone in the event of a catastrophic tire/rim failure.
Take a look at the service truck's jack while you're in the bed checking the safety cage. Air-hydraulic jacks should be stored so that rain and snow can't rust them, and the plungers should be retracted in order to keep them operational. Storing jacks with the plungers extended can cause dents, scratches and similar types of damage to the surface that can eventually render them unserviceable.
As important as the jacks are, it is equally important to ensure the service truck is equipped with a jack stand and metal plates for under the jack and stand. Those metal plates will really come in handy should we ever get that spring thaw that will turn roadway berms into mud.
Of course, having a well-equipped truck does not guarantee that your service technicians will be safe. Service personnel must be trained to work safely.
If the vehicle being worked on is hit by an oncoming car or falls on the technician, it's a good bet that person's longevity will be seriously impacted. So it is essential that workers strictly adhere to a few road-service guidelines.
The first and most important thing a technician must do is make sure that the vehicle being serviced is in a position where the service-person is not in danger. It should be at least five feet from the edge of the nearest traffic lane and emergency reflective triangles must be set up. One triangle must be located on the traffic side within 10 feet from the front or rear of the disabled vehicle. The other two should be placed approximately 100 feet from the vehicle being serviced in both directions so they are visible to passing and oncoming traffic.
The service truck should be parked about 30 feet from the disabled vehicle with the flashers clearly visible to passing and oncoming traffic and must have the parking brake applied.
The technician should never work between the service truck and the stopped vehicle! Many service people have been killed when their service trucks were struck by traffic, and they were crushed between the two vehicles. If the stopped vehicle cannot be serviced safely on the side of the road, it must be moved to a location where the serviceperson is not in danger of being injured by passing or oncoming traffic.
The second most important thing the tech should do is properly raise and secure the disabled vehicle. If the ground is not level or is too soft, the vehicle must be moved to a safer location. Then two wheel chocks must be placed to secure the vehicle so it cannot move in either direction once the axle is raised.
Metal plates can be placed under the jack and jack stand to prevent them from sinking into soft ground. (The jack and jack stand must be able to lift and support more than the actual load carried by the axle being lifted, so the technician must know the weight of the vehicle being raised.) The safest area to place a jack or jack stand is directly under the axle or any part directly connected to the axle, such as U-bolts or spring saddles.
Cribbing also may be needed to attain additional height. A vehicle should never be supported by a jack without a jack stand.
Don't forget training
Finally, there are a few safety steps that must be followed when handling tire and wheel assemblies. Tires that have been run flat or underinflated at 80 percent or less of the recommended pressure should never be re-inflated on or off the vehicle without fully deflating the tire and inspecting both it and the wheel for damage.
Technicians must always use a safety cage when inflating tire and wheel assemblies off the vehicle. Both the technician and the driver must remain out of the trajectory area when any tire is being inflated.
If any of your emergency road service personnel are not aware of the practices outlined above, you need to have them expertly trained in all areas of commercial truck tire service. The Tire Industry Association (TIA) is conducting a series of Commercial Tire Service Training and Certification classes in 20 cities . In each city, two back-to-back one-day seminars, complete with certification exams, will be offered.
You can find the complete “Truck Tire Training Tour” schedule and a registration form online at TIA's Web site, www.tireindustry.org, or by calling (800) 426-8835.
Getting this training—and equipping your service trucks with all the safety tools and materials needed for tire servicing—will greatly increase your technicians' odds of living long and prosperous lives on the job.
Now if we could just do something about those personal ads.