Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 11

FIXED OPS JOURNAL

ELEVATING SAFETY

 Failing to maintain lifts endangers service employees, risks big fines

F

JESSE SNYDER
jsnyder@crain.com

alling behind on documenting vehicle lift inspections in the service department is dangerous in itself. But it
also can expose a dealership to unexpected and hefty fines from the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration.
"If anything happens - an accident, a snap
inspection, even a disgruntled employee reporting a violation - the first thing OSHA
wants to see is the lift inspection documentation," says Ed Gibbons, fixed operations specialist for Automotive Compliance Consulting
Inc. of Crystal Lake, Ill.
"If it's not in order, there can be hefty fines,"
Gibbons told Fixed Ops Journal. "I've seen
fines of $15,000."
Many lifts at dealerships and independent
garages are in bad shape. Gibbons finds about
a quarter of the lifts he inspects are out of
compliance.
"I recently inspected lifts at a large dealership, and I failed 60 percent of them," he says.
He did not identify the store.
Even at the majority of dealerships that perform inspections regularly, problems can include missing or improper documentation or
inspections performed by people who aren't
certified to do so.
That doesn't matter to OSHA, Gibbons says.
"That paperwork is the first thing OSHA will
ask to review if there's a complaint or injury,
even if the injury that brought them there isn't
related to the lifts," he adds.
The most common mechanical failures Gibbons finds are loose nuts on floor anchor bolts
and broken or missing pins on two-part extension arms.
"The pins that prevent the extension arms
from sliding are often undersized for the
weight of the part and can shear off during
use," Gibbons notes.
"The extension arms can weigh 50 pounds,"
he says. "If a swing arm falls eight feet onto a
technician's foot, it can cause a serious injury."

Look for leaks
Another common mechanical flaw is a leaky
hydraulic line, so checking for leaks should be
part of the daily inspection routine.
"Deal with a leak immediately," Gibbons says.

Shop uplift

To maintain workflow through the
service department, prevent worker
injury and promote safety related to
the use of lifts, consultant Ed Gibbons
recommends that dealerships
 Review lift maintenance
documents
 Have each service technician
inspect the lift he normally uses
every day
 Inspect all lift hydraulic systems,
valves, hoses, cables, chains, pins,
spindles, electrical components,
ramps, runway stops, locks and
safety features
 Give lift operators refresher
maintenance and safety training;
operators must be trained on the lift
they use
 Keep records of all training.

"A bad leak is a potential slip-and-fall situation."
OSHA doesn't directly tally service department injuries. But the annual injury rate for
new-vehicle dealerships in general was 3.5 for
every 100 full-time-equivalent employees in
2015 - the latest year available - according to
the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a branch of the
U.S. Labor Department. Almost half of those
injured workers needed time off to recover.
Tightening anchor bolts and replacing pins
or hydraulic lines are not complicated or costly
repairs, but the flaws are easy to miss. OSHArequired annual inspections of lifts are aimed at
catching such maintenance lapses.
Each lift manufacturer sets standards for its
own equipment's annual inspection.
The OSHA paperwork includes inspection

sheets and logs, along with certificates and
stickers to be placed on each lift stating either
that it is ready for use or that it is out of commission until a specific problem is fixed.

Playing by the rules
Follow the OSHA process, Gibbons cautions
dealerships.
"Disgruntled former employees know to
contact OSHA about a real or perceived safety
violation at a dealership, and they know OSHA
goes after those complaints with zeal," he says.
Gibbons has been both a dealership service
manager and the owner of an independent
garage.
He notes that OSHA requires a qualified lift
inspector, and staff maintenance employees
are not qualified unless they have been
trained.
"The essential component is to have a qualified inspector, and the compliance documentation they provide," he says.
He recalled one dealer's tale about a lift
manufacturer's maintenance employee who
inspected his lifts.
Instead of thoroughly documenting his
work, he simply scribbled "inspected lifts"
and the day on the receipt. OSHA rejected that
documentation, and the dealer said he paid
fines.
Separately, the Automotive Lift Institute, an
industry trade association, provides lift standards, inspection certification, employee training and a list of certified inspectors.
Although service managers should always
be prepared for OSHA inspections, Gibbons
says, they should focus first on their employees.
"Don't just worry about OSHA," he says.
"Worry about the fingers and toes of the tech
who's been working for you for 10 years." 

AUGUST 2017

PAGE 11



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017

Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017
Contents
Need a lift
Tire track
Mobility devices
Times to recall
Slick trick
Fatal fire
Players club
Online parts
Lean inventory
Loyalty test
Patent pending
Open minded
Editor’s Letter
Service Counter
Legal Lane
Richard Truett
Feedback
Five Minutes With
Letters
Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Intro
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Cover2
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Contents
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Editor’s Letter
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 5
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Service Counter
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 7
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Legal Lane
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 9
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 10
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Need a lift
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Tire track
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 13
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 14
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 15
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 16
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 17
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Mobility devices
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 19
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 20
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 21
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 22
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 23
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Times to recall
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 25
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 26
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 27
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Slick trick
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 29
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Fatal fire
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Richard Truett
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Players club
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 33
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Online parts
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 35
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Lean inventory
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 37
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Loyalty test
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 39
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Patent pending
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - 41
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Feedback
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Open minded
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Five Minutes With
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Letters
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - August 2017 - Cover3
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