June 27, 2013
Accidents happen, but they don’t have to happen every day.
By posting accident prevention signs throughout your facility, training your employees to be safe and taking advantage of safety resources available, you can greatly minimize the risk of accidents in your dealership.
“[Accident prevention] is one of those topics where there’s a hard way and an easy way to learn about it,” says John Craft, CFO at Campbell Freightliner, “and you don’t want to have to learn the hard way.”
One great way to reduce the risk of accidents is through safety signage.
Simple as it sounds, accident prevention signs continuously remind employees of safety best practices and workplace risks.
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends businesses post a variety of signs to promote accident prevention, including Danger, Caution and Safety Instruction signs.
Each sign should relate to the area or equipment immediately surrounding the sign, and should be prominently visible to consistently warn employees of the risks of working in that space.
OSHA describes the circumstances to use each signs as follows:
Danger signs: “All employees shall be instructed that danger signs indicate immediate danger and that special precautions are necessary.”
Caution signs: “Shall be used only to warn against potential hazards or to caution against unsafe practices.”
Safety instruction signs: “Shall be used where there is a need for general instructions and suggestions relative to safety measures.”
OSHA recommends all Danger signs be red, black, and white, with Caution signs being yellow with black or white letters and Safety Instruction signs white with green or black lettering. (For more information on sign design, check OSHA’s website.)
And while what’s written on the signs is important, their largest benefit should come from the memories they trigger in your employee’s minds.
Employees must be trained to be safe.
Craft says safety training has been integrated into the regular meeting schedule at Campbell Freightliner’s locations.
This allows the business to constantly address safety procedures that need to be tweaked or improved, and allows the management staff to congratulate employees who have exhibited excellent workplace safety.
Employee interaction is another important aspect of accident prevention, adds Craft, and says that not all employee stories have to be positive to help reduce accidents.
An employee discussing an incident or error that led to an accident will help other employees avoid repeating the mistake.
Employees also can provide safety suggestions you can integrate into your facility.
Craft says Campbell Freightliner’s service department recently started covering hood mirrors with padded slip covers when performing engine service to minimize technicians’ risks of getting injured colliding with mirrors while working. The product is simple, but it’s made a difference, he says.
Training new employees in accident prevention is important, too.
Having an all-staff safety meeting on Monday won’t help a new employee who starts Wednesday. All new employees should be fully trained all on equipment and safety protocols before they start working.
To do that, you have to take advantage of the training information in the marketplace.
There are a variety of consulting and training organizations nationwide that offer public and in-house safety training. These courses can help you create and tweak the safety practices you use in your facility, and provide you information about changes to Federal and state workplace safety laws.
If you’re unaware of where to look for them, Craft says to contact your insurance company.
“They can provide a lot of information and point you to third-party consultants who offer training and classes that can help with [accident prevention],” he says.
Workplace safety and accident prevention procedures minimize injuries, employee downtime, worker compensation expenses and insurance, so it’s worth it for all dealers to be smart.
Keeping up with industry news can help, too.
Campbell Freightliner suffered a devastating fire at its New Windsor, N.Y. location earlier this year, and even though no employees were at fault, it still shook up the Campbell staff.
Craft says it shook up other dealers as well. And like the employee horror story suggestion above, he adds that sometimes just hearing about a bad accident can help prevent others.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of guys I’ve talked to who asked what happened and have changed their fire prevention standards because of [our fire],” Craft says. “When you know somebody who goes through [what we went through], it affects your behavior.”