Minimizing technician injuries should be a part of policies and procedures at every automotive service facility.
Tire dealers and service shop operators must be proactive in preventing needless injuries that hamper morale and hurt long-term profitability.
I'm often reminded of the impact of injuries for a simple reason: I meet countless techs during my travels doing research and presenting seminars. Many of them look, speak and move like the proverbial walking wounded. (Forget for the moment the ones I never meet because their injuries have forced them out of the automotive repair trade.)
The injured techs' stories very often detail foolish, shortsighted mistakes that were eminently avoidable.
Automotive maintenance and repair requires techs to do a great deal of physical activity around potentially dangerous tools, machinery and vehicles. The law of averages suggests a tech is likely to get hurt at one point or another.
The difference, readers, is the degree or severity of the injury: Skinned hands are quite a different matter than broken limbs, hernias and spinal disc damage.
To be fair, there's no practical way to stop any employee from making a foolish choice at any workplace. What's more, human nature being what it is, some workers simply have more common sense than others do. But experience shows that bosses can minimize injuries by reducing the excuses for getting hurt.
The first step toward reducing injuries is keeping safety and productivity in mind when equipping the service department. What's more, safe and productive are not conflicting concepts. For example, consider a tech who suffers a hernia from pushing a disabled vehicle without assistance. One practical solution is to require fellow technicians to help push any vehicle that won't start and must be moved.
Another potential solution is investing in a device such as a battery-powered vehicle pusher. If you haven't seen one, a pusher is a two-wheeled cart with which a worker can quickly and safely move a vehicle that won't start. Plus, where necessary, a service writer or tire buster can steer the vehicle while those other highly paid, highly productive techs continue producing profits uninterrupted.
Some shop owners I know have purchased used all terrain vehicles (ATVs) specifically for towing disabled vehicles into and out of their service bays. Other bosses already own a tow truck so they require workers to use it to push disabled vehicles.
Occasionally, techs may have to move a partially disassembled vehicle in order to free up a bay for other work. Several companies make both practical and substantial dollies specifically for this task. Even if the dolly's only used sporadically, it pays for itself when it frees up a bay so the bay produces more profit.
Mind you, these techniques are just a few basic examples. The moral is that the boss should research and invest in practical equipment that reduces or eliminates excuses for careless, injurious behavior. But equally important, owners and managers should make it policy to use technology instead of sheer brawn to do all strenuous work in the service department.
Some take the added step of spelling this out in the employee manual. Others declare it in written notices at staff meetings.
Employees who repeatedly forego safer techniques for foolhardy maneuvers should be cited for these stunts. Ultimately, risky shortcuts lead to injuries. In turn, injuries hurt morale, hamper productivity and could cost your business the services of an otherwise capable worker permanently.
Therefore, proactively preventing injuries makes dollars and cents as well as dollars and sense.
Equipping the service department with safety, speed and convenience in mind builds morale—improving morale always improves both productivity and employee loyalty.