Photo courtesy of Coast Products
mobile maintenance staff should have lighted and reflective vests for proper visibility during roadside service.

Technician safety: Priority No. 1

July 15, 2021
The bottom line is important to every fleet, but the most important assets in the maintenance bay are the people.

Keeping equipment properly maintained to maximize uptime is one of a fleet’s top priorities, but another priority should be kept even higher: keeping the staff safe. After all, vehicles are not a fleet’s most important asset—its people are.

In the maintenance bay, the people are the technicians who keep the trucks on the road as much as possible. Taking steps to keep them safe on the job is the maintenance department’s top priority.

Keeping technicians safe is important for obvious reasons, but it has some less apparent positive results as well. Staff members who feel safe are more likely to remain with the fleet, which is more important than ever considering the current technician shortage. It also helps maintain the fleet’s uptime: an injured employee may require time away from work to recover, for example, meaning less available staff to keep vehicles up and running.

Holding regular safety meetings, keeping a clean and well-organized shop, and providing high quality safety gear are a few ways fleets can keep maintenance staff safe.

Safety training

It is imperative for fleets to hold regular safety meetings with technicians to keep them up to date with the latest safety codes and procedures. Holding regular refresher courses helps ensure everyone knows how to stay safe, how to keep the shop in safe condition, and what to do in case of an emergency.

Showing employees the location of critical safety gear is also important, especially for new hires who may not know their way around the shop yet.

Shop conditions

Another factor important to technician safety is the condition of the workspace. Employees should be trained to keep their work areas neat and to put tools and other items back where they belong after use. They should avoid cluttering their areas with tools, cords, air hoses, and other potential trip hazards. A well-organized shop is a safe shop.

There should also be a plan in place to keep the shop clean. Sweeping dirt and debris from the floors and cleaning tools and equipment are steps that should be taken on a regular basis to make sure the shop is a safe place to work. Any fluid spills should be cleaned up immediately to avoid slips and falls.

Adequate lighting is another consideration that directly impacts technician safety. Providing proper lighting in the bay allows technicians to work more effectively, but also allows them to see potential hazards that may be hidden in a poorly lit space.

Safety gear

It may seem obvious, but safety gear needs to provide safety to those using it. While most safety gear performs this function well, cutting corners and purchasing discount gear from unverified sources could put technicians at risk of an injury.

When selecting safety gear, be sure that each protective item is certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). This is especially important for gear such as safety glasses, hard hats, and protective gloves to ensure they are manufactured to high enough standards to protect technicians from cuts, abrasions, and impacts.

Having the proper safety gear for the task at hand is another consideration fleets need to take. For example, mobile maintenance staff should have lighted and reflective vests for proper visibility during roadside service. Likewise, technicians working on electric vehicles will need properly insulated tools as well as gloves to mitigate risk of shock from high voltage systems.

Providing proper protective gear is one thing, but making sure technicians use it is another entirely. Ensuring the safety gear in your shop is comfortable encourages technicians to keep it on all day. This may mean spending a bit more rather than purchasing the least expensive gear, but it is worth it to keep your employees safe.

Keeping maintenance staff safe is more important than ever, and not just for a fleet’s bottom line. It can also help attract and retain talented technicians and—most importantly—it is the right thing to do.

About the Author

David Brierley | Editor | Fleet Maintenance

David Brierley is a former editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine.

Brierley’s education and career have been based in the publishing industry. He is an award-winning writer and comes from a background in automotive, trucking, and heavy equipment. Brierley joined the Endeavor Business Media vehicle repair group in 2017 as managing editor for Fleet Maintenance, PTEN, and Professional Distributor magazines, as well as VehicleServicePros.com. In his current role, he writes for and oversees production of Fleet Maintenance magazine. He has worked in the publishing industry since 2011.