Dealership Safety Concerns Aren’t Only About Recalls

Life at a dealership is hectic. There are so many pieces moving simultaneously that it can seem as if you’re living in a real-life version of the classic video game “Frogger,” continuously ducking, dodging and weaving your way through the dealership -- just as everyone else is. Combine sales, service and customer activity, and that brings the risk to personal safety to a whole new level. And, sometimes, when in a hurry, things happen.


Take, for example, this dealership in Texas which Auto News reports is facing a wrongful death lawsuit because a salesperson backed up a car on the lot too fast and ran over a service customer. That split-second of “in a hurry” can translate into millions of dollars in liability.


There are also several recent examples of salespeople held hostage, or carjacked, on test drives. These are all examples of things that could have been avoided if the dealership protected its staff and customers by creating and enforcing safety precautions.


OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration) has strict guidelines, especially in the service department, that dealers and employees must follow. Workers who interact with caustic or otherwise dangerous material sit through training and acknowledge that they understand the risks, procedures and will take adequate cautions when dealing with these items.


Most dealerships have designated test-drive routes, collect photocopies of customer’s driver’s licenses and have other precautionary measures prior to a test drive. But, sometimes, things get busy and process steps get overlooked. Perhaps you can get that copy of the driver’s license after the test drive?


Life can be hectic in the service department-- plenty of accidents happen which leave employees injured, or worse. Whether that’s because the vehicle was placed incorrectly on the lift, a power tool was not used safely, or chemicals were incorrectly handled, these are all things no dealership wants to happen, but sadly they do. Sometimes people, naturally, are in such a hurry that critical pieces of the process get skipped, or shortcuts are taken.


Just as in any workplace, it’s the dealership’s responsibility to ensure safety precautions are put into place and enforced, not only for insurance requirements but, more importantly, for employee and customer safety. That’s why you see yellow tent signs on floors that read “Wet Floor” and that’s why McDonald’s coffee cups say “Danger! Liquid is hot!” Yes, it all may seem common sense but, in the end, the dealership is the one that could be liable when something goes awry.


You may want to consider sending someone to train to be a “Safety Officer” in your dealership. OSHA requires that all businesses have someone designated as such. But, knowing employee turnover, how many of them are trained properly? How many truly analyze processes, watch behavior and correct any mistakes which are against safety precautions?


Yes, it’s another thing to think about and concern yourself with. However, in the end, I’m pretty sure no dealership wants to be the one that not only has a dead or injured customer on their hands, and the media attention that goes along with it – to say nothing of the big check that will eventually need to be written.

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