What Are the Biggest Safety Risks for Automotive Businesses? -

What Are the Biggest Safety Risks for Automotive Businesses?

Automotive businesses are faced daily with potential risks that can threaten and result in a loss. Slips and falls, employee discrimination, accidental spills and faulty work are just a few examples. As an owner, operator or employee of an automotive business, how do you know which to focus on?

Automotive businesses are faced daily with potential risks that can threaten and result in a loss. Slips and falls, employee discrimination, accidental spills and faulty work are just a few examples. As an owner, operator or employee of an automotive business, how do you know which to focus on?

Zurich has compiled the top three areas for concern for three general automotive business department types and suggested loss prevention strategies to address them. Some of these topics were pulled directly from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration’s (OSHA) list of most frequently cited standards for automotive repair shops (October 2008 – September 2009), while others were pulled from Zurich’s claims files and extensive industry experience. 

1) Wheel off 

This is a completed operations exposure with the potential to cause catastrophic losses. A wheel(s) from a customer vehicle falls off after being serviced at your facility. 

• Inspect the studs, wheel and the tire for bead, sidewall or tread damage. 

• Implement a formal policy to torque wheels/ lug nuts to manufacturer’s specifications. 

• Use a calibrated torque wrench to tighten lug nuts. 

• “Double check” or quality control each job. 

• If you need help, the Tire Industry Association (TIA) has excellent training programs – visit their website at www.tireindustry.org. 

2) Hazard communication standard
This is number one on the OSHA list of most frequently cited standards, also known as the “Right to Know” standard.

• Establish a written Hazard Communication Program including procedures for labeling containers. 

• Provide employee training on the program. 

• Ensure Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are on hand and available. 

• Make sure your employees have been made aware of the hazards. 

3) Slips and falls 

This is an exposure that can affect both your employees and customers. Slippery floors can result from fluid spills, poor (floor surface) design and many other elements. 

• Implement an “aggressive” housekeeping program. 

• Keep mops, buckets and “Caution – Wet Floor” signs readily available.

• Use floor care products that are advertised as “slip-resistant.” 

• Position rugs or mats at entrances to buildings during inclement weather. 

4) Driver hiring, training and monitoring
Parts drivers create a daily accident exposure – this includes property damage and liability from injuring third-parties. Did you know that vehicle accidents are the leading cause of occupational fatalities? 

• Implement a formal driver safety program. 

• Hold brief but frequent driver safety meetings. 

• Require all moving violations to be reported (personal or company vehicles). 

5) Lifting, strain, sprain and overexertion injuries 

These are the most frequent types of injuries in the parts department. These injuries often result in high-dollar claims and extended time away from work.

• Employ strict hiring procedures including pre-employment drugs screens. 

• Provide all necessary mechanical lifting aids – forklifts, pallet jacks, conveyors, etc. 

• Caution: OSHA requires employees to be properly trained prior to operating a forklift. 

• Train employees on safe lifting techniques. 

• Implement a Transition to Work program (also known as “Return to Work”). 

6) Fall protection 

Fall protection regulations can apply to parts storage areas and order-picking equipment in addition to alignment or quick-lube pits in the service department. 

• Install handrails, mid-rails and toe boards in mezzanine areas. 

• Order-pickers that elevate employees in order to reach high storage areas must be equipped with fall protection that includes a fall arrest or “positioning system” system. 

• Full body harnesses are required for fall arrest systems; belts cannot be used for any vertical free fall protection. 

7) Eye protection 

Eye injuries are generally minor in nature. However, frequency can be a big problem. Productivity can be cut substantially by employees who have to go to a first aid clinic to have debris removed from their eyes. 

• OSHA requires the employer to assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitates the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

• Provide safety glasses and enforce their use, i.e. air chisels, grinders, buffing, etc. 

• Employees should wear full face shields when using parts washers. 

8) Fire prevention and protection

Fires have the potential to kill and injure employees, not to mention put you out of business. Where do your customers go while you rebuild? Market share and customers lost to the competition are tough to recoup or win back.  

• Disconnect batteries on all vehicles stored inside the building to reduce the possibility of an electrical “short” starting a fire. 

• Obtain and use gas caddies/buggies for gasoline handling. 

For questions about this loss prevention topic or any of Zurich’s products or services, visit www.zurichna.com/zdu.

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Although there is no silver bullet that will allow you to bring in every first-time caller, there are a number of things you can do to get more appointments. In this article, I would like to share some of the best practices your advisors can use that will generate immediate results.

By Bob
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vehicles being built better than ever before, and with service intervals
continually being extended, you are going to see your customers less often.
This means your service advisors are going to have to be razor sharp when the
phone rings. Although there is no silver bullet that will allow you to bring in
every first-time caller, there are a number of things you can do to get more
appointments. In this article, I would like to share some of the best practices
your advisors can use that will generate immediate results.
In order for
someone to buy from you, three things need to occur: They have to like you,
they have to trust you, and they have to view you as a credible expert. So when
your phone rings, the first thing your advisors need to sell is themselves; not
the service or repair. The best way of accomplishing this goal is with a
professional, courteous and upbeat greeting, such as “Thank you for calling
Elite Auto Care, this is Bob. How can I help you this morning?” By using these
words we’re showing appreciation, by volunteering the name of our company we’re
assuring the callers that they’ve called the right number, and by providing our
name we’re beginning to build personal relationships. By asking how we can
help, we’re asking a question that will allow us to control the conversation.
By being upbeat and using the right tonality, our likeability goes up, and the
customer’s anxiety goes down.
The second
thing your advisors will need to do is slow the conversation down so the
callers don’t feel rushed, and they’ll have to become good detectives by asking
a number of questions. By having the callers talk, it will take their focus off
of the price, and it will allow them to begin to feel more comfortable with
your advisors at the same time.
When it comes
to asking for the appointment, one of the best kept secrets I can share with
you is this: With rare exception, your advisors need to offer every caller a
choice of appointment times, and whenever possible, one of those options should
be for them to bring the vehicle in now. For example; “I can squeeze you in
now, or would 2:15 be better for you?”
When it comes to auto repair, customers love finality, which is why
providing the “now” option is a powerful sales tool.
Now here’s
the absolute best-kept secret for dealing with the tough first-time callers.
Every one of your advisors needs to be aware that many “price shoppers” are
asking for price just to start the conversation, and beyond that, with rare
exception, callers don’t know the questions they should be asking. This is why
it’s a good idea to ask your service advisors to write down a list of the
questions that they think an educated caller would ask. Once they have their
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price inquiries with a statement like, “Well Larry, I know price is important
to you, and it should be, but if you call five different shops today, you’ll
more than likely get at least five different prices. Some of the other
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this. If you take my recommendations, when those price shoppers start calling
other shops, you know as well as I do that they’ll more than likely ask some of
the questions your advisors suggested to them. Not only will your competitors
be caught off guard and struggle with the answers, but in each case, the
callers will be thinking of your advisors. This is when they’ll not only realize
how well your advisors handled the call, but they’ll trust your advisors, and
you bet; they’ll now view them as credible experts as well.
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