are Designed to be Used, Not By-passed
By Universal Underwriters Group's
Loss Prevention Department
"Silence gives consent." As a statement regarding
communication, this quote speaks volumes. When communication is
centered in the workplace and focused on safety, the effect of silence
can be dangerous and costly. Management should speak out when unsafe
practices are observed and be proactive in encouraging safe work
habits. On the subject of safety, silence implies consent for unsafe
Regardless of how much faster or easier the employee
believes he or she can do the job without using safety devices,
the slight gain in speed or convenience is absolutely, positively
not worth the risk. Just ask the service tech who had his foot crushed
or another who had his finger severed. Both of these men by-passed
the safety devices on their lifts by tying the lift controls in
the open position. That second or two of time they saved no doubt
seems a little less valuable to them now.
Lifts Are Only One Example, But a Good One.
The "Lifting it Right" manual of the Automotive
Lift Institute (ALI) states: "The lift operator must be in control
of the lift while it is in motion. Do not block open or override
the self-closing feature of the lift controls." This would seem
to be an embarrassingly obvious directive, akin to "Do not block
open or override the self-closing feature of the gas pedal." And
yet, we continue to observe lift controls and mechanical locking
devices (safety locks) tied in the open position with wire hooks,
rubber bands and bungee cords.
Faster? Maybe. But Never Worth the Risk.
Aside from the risk of real, indelible human suffering
when safety devices are by-passed, there is also a risk of OSHA
citations and substantial fines. According to OSHA, inspectors are
trained to "go to the manual" when inspecting safety devices. They
will use the manufacturer's installation and operating instructions,
as well as safety manuals such as ALl's, to prove that a device
exists for a safety purpose and that purpose has been by-passed.
The maximum fine for willful by-passing of a safety device is $70,000.
Zero Tolerance is One Manager's Answer
One manager told us that he has zero tolerance
for by-passing lift controls. Someone does that in his shop and
they are subject to termination. Period. You might think that sounds
extreme and you'd lose some of your best employees if you took that
approach. But there's more than one service tech in the country
who probably wishes his manager hadn't settled for less. Don't let
your silence give consent to unsafe work behavior. Hold a meeting
about lift safety today.
Lift Safety Tips
1. Operating controls are designed to close when
released. Do not block open or override them.
2. Mechanical locking (safety catch) devices help
to prevent the vehicle from falling while you're working underneath
it. They are there to protect you, always use them and never override
3. Inspect your lift daily. Never operate it with
broken or damaged parts such as lift arms that are cracked, bent
or will not lock into place. Also look for chains and cables that
are slack, deformed, corroded, cut, bent or excessively worn.
4. Do not modify the lift with components not approved
by the manufacturer.
5. Never overload your lift. The manufacturer's
rated capacity is shown on a nameplate fastened to the lift.
6. Always check to make sure the vehicle is not
loaded with materials that might cause it to tip when raised.
7. Always keep the lift area free of obstructions,
grease, oil, trash and other debris. Look around you before carefully
driving on or off the lift.
8. Before driving the vehicle over the lift, position
arms and supports to provide unobstructed clearance. Do not hit
or run over lift arms, adapters or axle supports.
9. Load vehicle on the lift carefully. Position
lift supports to contact at the vehicle manufacturer's recommended
lifting points. Raise lift until supports contact vehicle and check
supports for secure contact with vehicle. Raise the vehicle approximately
one foot off the ground and shake it by pushing gently on the front
or rear bumper to make sure it is stable. Raise the lift to the
desired working height and engage locking device.
10. Always remember that the removal or installation
of vehicle components may cause a critical shift in the center of
gravity resulting in vehicle instability.
Gerry Cecil is the National Account Executive
for the Special Account Services division of Universal Underwriters
Group. For more information about how Universal Underwriters Group,
Special Account Services can help your automotive recycling business
needs call 800-840-8842, ext. 4845, visit www.uuic.com/specaccts/ara.asp
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.