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Published on August 13, 2007

Insist on training for safety's sake

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Opinion

AKRON (Aug. 13, 2007) — Two recent accidents in which tires were involved highlight the crucial need for continued vigilance in the installation and maintenance of tires and wheels.


As routine as tire and wheel servicing can be, it remains imperative that tire dealership personnel follow industry recommended practices in their work, lest they expose the company to potential liability issues.


It is equally essential that tire dealers provide the necessary training for their workers. Ideally, this would include becoming certified through the Tire Industry Association's training programs.


Along with this, dealers must do periodic spot checks of their employees to ensure that proper servicing procedures and safety precautions are being followed.


The two accidents illustrate dramatically why following industry recommended service practices can never be stressed enough.


The first occurred July 10 when a McCarthy Tire & Automotive Centers employee was killed after a disabled bus fell on him as he was changing one of its tires on the side of a road in New Jersey.


The 26-year-old victim was no tire industry novice, having worked at the dealership for three years.


Apparently he didn't follow an industry recommended practice when he placed two hydraulic jacks on soft ground instead of resting them on metal plates that would have provided a firmer surface area.


This tragedy occurred when the jacks apparently shifted on the soft earth and the bus dropped, pinning the technician to the ground. He died at the scene.


No one will ever know why this young technician failed to shore up the surface area underneath the jacks. Maybe he thought the ground surface was stable or he was trying to get the bus back on the road as quickly as possible. Maybe he just didn't know better.


But by failing to follow a simple safety precaution, he paid for it with his life.


The second accident, which happened July 16, involved improper tire-and-wheel assembly installation. In this incident, a 49-year-old woman was killed when a tire-and-wheel assembly came off a tractor trailer near Austin, Texas. After detaching from the semi, the assembly crossed a 3-foot concrete highway divider and struck the woman's vehicle as it traveled in the opposite direction. She died instantly.


Recently, similar wheel-off accidents have been reported in other parts of the country, including incidents where the wheel nuts—and not the loose tire/wheel assembly—have struck passing vehicles.


There's a common thread throughout these situations. Something wasn't done right, either during the service procedure or in the use of equipment.


Tire dealers can't control everything that happens in their dealerships, but they can make sure that, as a requisite of employment, all employees who work on tires and wheels are properly trained, certified and monitored. Then it's the employees' responsibility to use what they have learned.


That would go a long way toward insuring safety in the shop and on the nation's highways.

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