[Published in National Oil & Lube News/December, 2018]
Working on the underside of vehicles presents unique hazards to automotive technicians. Quick lube technicians must navigate a constant stream of vehicles passing through bays and overhead. This significantly heightens the risk of technicians having their heads impacted by the bottom side of a car or truck, or worse. Then there are many hot chemicals and fluids and the potential of burns from these, as well as trips and falls, too.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports the in the U.S., 3.9 out of every 100 full-time workers employed in automotive repair and maintenance in 2011 suffered various types of nonfatal accidents. This rate of accident was much higher than other industries considered dangerous, like mining and chemical production.
Valvoline Instant Oil Change (VIOC) has made the safety of their shops a central component of their corporate culture. They’ve committed to a “zero-incident” mindset in their approach to keeping employees safe.
Speaking with Eugen Oana, VOIC’s senior manager of environmental health and safety, he explained how his company has moved from mere compliance to empowering employees to make a real impact, while managing their own safety.
“In the past, our company operated from a position of compliance. This isn’t uncommon in our industry,” Oana aid. “We did what we did, because ‘we had to do it.’”
Oana explained that over the past seven or eight years, there’s been a shift, which has been driving what he calls a “culture of commitment” in terms of safety at Valvoline.
“We’re looking to develop a mindset of employees who’ve bought-in to being safe, while making sure their teammates are working safely. It creates an environment of caring and supporting one another,” he said.
For more than a decade, Valvoline has been collecting and tracking data on safety and injuries. This began in 2006, when they mandated bump caps and safety glasses. These became the standard for safety in keeping technicians safe and free from injury, but Oana and other managers didn’t think it was enough.
Given the types of exposure that technicians have working below vehicles, it wasn’t uncommon for other injuries to occur. Burns and cuts and scrapes are typical injuries for technicians. Then, there was the issue of protecting the head and face. Continue reading