Meanwhile, Louisiana is fifth in the world; Alabama is eighth. (These were measured in the number of new cases per million residents.)
Closer to home, more than half of recent coronavirus cases in Ohio are persons younger than 40 years of age.
During the years I have authored this column, I have emphasized that common folks can learn a lot just by watching.
Some of my industry sources and I have been observing business' behavior — including at various automotive service facilities. Our overall feeling is that some are not taking sensible coronavirus precautions seriously — regardless of what local mandates require.
In fact, these fellows also share another impression of mine. Namely, some service personnel have a knack for acting first and thinking later.
Pandemic or no pandemic, these particular workers simply act or react — seemingly without any concern for potential dangers or possible consequences.
In short, their modus operandi can be summed up by the expression "winging it." Worse yet, their bosses have tolerated the fact that these workers wing it out in the service bays.
Thankfully, these rambunctious technicians and tire busters represent only a relative minority of the entire auto service workforce.
At the same time, winging it may create a bad blunder at the wrong time. A capable boss knows that it only takes one mistake to wreak havoc in a service department.
Indeed, winging it with coronavirus precautions could have disastrous results for you and your entire staff.
Perhaps the pandemic could be the impetus to reign in a rambunctious worker via the appropriate oversight. The goal is to coach a capable but often-careless employee to think first, act second in the workplace.
Risk assessment exercises
A lengthy list of shop blunders reinforces the belief that many service personnel don't think first and act second on auto repairs — let alone on a potential deadly contagion. Workplace safety specialists might describe these employees as having poor risk-assessment skills.
When some owners and managers hear "poor risk-assessment," however, you may just as well have said "satanic cult proclivity."
In the spirit of clarity, let's recap some apparent failures at risk assessment that have occurred in the service bays long before coronavirus appeared.
First of all, techs may overlook the fire potential gasoline presents in a workshop environment. Liquid gasoline is always a hazard but workers may underestimate the risk of fuel vapors.
For one thing, techs may recognize a gasoline leak or spill more readily simply because it's relatively easy to see. However, highly volatile fuel vapors may drift through the service department unchecked because workers don't see them.
What's more, the workers may not react readily because gasoline odors are relatively common in a workshop. The vapors may waft along until something ignites them.
This is an example of poor risk assessment involving fuel vapor and an unseen ignition source. I have heard nearly the identical story from people in different regions of the country — long before the internet became popular.
For instance, a tech removes a leaking or damaged fuel tank, spilling some gasoline during the job. He tries to blot the fuel as well as practically possible by covering it with powdered shop absorbent. Then the tech continues working.
Meantime, another worker has to clean a vehicle's interior or trunk for some reason. He happens to pull this car into the bay next to the fuel tank replacement. The fellow tackles the task with one of those large, powerful, shop-style vacuum cleaners.
Before anyone realizes what's happening, flames belch out of the vacuum cleaner and scare the worker senseless. As the guy tries to evade the flames, he falls backward, whacking his head against the shop floor or a piece of equipment.
Later, co-workers see him nursing a painful knot on his noggin and fresh stitches.
Second, techs may underestimate the danger of hot metal debris when wielding a cutting torch — not to mention the importance of effective work shoes.
Over the years, I have worked with guys who strongly preferred sneakers to any kind of sturdy work shoes. In particular, I recall one fellow who wouldn't even wear socks with those sneakers during the hottest summer days.
Meantime, "Mr. Sneakers" was cutting something off a car one day. I don't remember if it was an old exhaust system, rusted brackets — whatever — but from the next bay, I could hear a constant rain of "torched" debris hitting the shop floor. Then, at some point, he screamed and dropped the torch.
Indeed, he was so focused on the work that he allowed a blob of molten metal burn through one of his sneakers. For one thing, he walked in pain for weeks afterward.
For another, the wound's location on the top of his foot didn't lend itself to quick healing. He could barely tighten shoe laces above that burn.
On the one hand, husky work shoes are not impervious to molten metal, but they do provide substantially better protection than sneakers — period.