Failure to wear personal safety gear such as eyewear, masks, earplugs, and footwear is a common violation that can lead to serious injury and legal and regulatory trouble.  Photo by Roegger via Pixabay

Failure to wear personal safety gear such as eyewear, masks, earplugs, and footwear is a common violation that can lead to serious injury and legal and regulatory trouble. Photo by Roegger via Pixabay

You probably walk through your dealership every day, greeting managers and staff, looking around, and asking questions. On your next tour through the shop, the parts department, the service drive, and the waiting room, you are likely to notice obvious issues, such as missing fire extinguishers and major spills. But many issues are off the dealer’s radar, and some represent serious violations of federal, state, and local safety standards that can turn into major headaches if they aren’t uncovered in time.

In the first of this two-part series, we’ll discuss two common violations you can identify and address immediately: personal safety gear and waste and parts disposal and recycling.

1. Safety Gear

Every employee who enters your service department requires safety gear and safety training for certain situations — whether or not they work in the shop full-time. Here are seven common violations you can check for today:

  • Eye safety. Every technician, advisor, and parts person should be issued a pair of safety glasses. They should acknowledge, in writing, that they have them and agree to use them. There should be a spare box of glasses for anyone else who enters the shop.
  • Ear safety. Same as above: Issue earplugs and have extras readily available. Some of the loudest noise in the shop comes from the technician’s hand tools, not from revving engines.
  • Dust mask. Anytime there is going to be an airborne discharge of material, whether solid or gas, there should be a mask available and in use.
  • Protective gloves. Some jobs require the use of gloves. No arguments!
  • Shoes. When protective or nonslip footwear is required, they must be worn.
  • Hair. There’s nothing wrong with long hair, it just needs to be tied out of the way or tucked under a hat.
  • Uniforms. It may sound silly, but techs and advisors in jeans is not a good look, and shop uniforms are specifically designed to minimize the danger of moving mechanical components. Spring for the pants or coveralls and make sure they are worn.

2. Disposal and Recycling

If you are walking through your shop and you notice an unattended pile of Oil-Dri in a service bay, that is a violation. It sounds petty, but it could be a signal of other violations that are more serious, and it could demonstrate the culture of your shop when it comes to safety and hazardous waste compliance.

Since everything in a dealership disposal stream is regulated, ask your service manager plainly: “Are all your waste disposal manifests up to date?” If there is hesitation or avoidance on the manager’s end, that might be something you would want to investigate.

Look at the waste disposal tanks. Are they free from clutter, or is there a pile of old soiled rags on top of them, empty parts boxes, drain pans with oil or coolant, old parts or empty food wrappers, or anything else that doesn’t belong there? There should not be any spills on the ground around them either. And there must be a clear pathway so they can be accessed in an emergency.

Finally, check your recycling program. Batteries, components with circuit boards, and tires, among other items, are subject to strict guidelines. Ask your service manager whether any of these items are going out with the trash. Any hesitation or avoidance on their part are clues your disposal stream might be out of compliance.

Check back Wednesday for Part Two of our series, in which we will cover facilities, training, and culture.

Leonard Buchholz is the founder of CarBizCoach. He helps dealers meet performance objectives in service sales, CSI, and profitability, and has extensive experience in evaluating fixed operations and providing corrective training and guidance. Contact him at [email protected].