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Caveman to Mr. Cool

By Katherine Henmueller, CCAR, MACS Contributor

Over 300,000 years ago, modern man began walking the earth relying heavily on his five senses– especially sight – to hunt, find joy, and avoid danger.  In 1914, Garrett Morgan, who decided it was important to protect man’s eyes during hazardous situations, developed what we know today as ‘safety’ glasses. 

Wear you safety glasses! Image courtesy of Safety Gear Pro

Per the current trend, it takes society a while to warm up to most decisions based on science, such as widespread use of safety glasses in hazardous workplaces, which did not really begin until the 1940s.  And even that is debatable…

Have you ever walked into a repair shop and thought to yourself – why are none of these technicians wearing safety glasses?  It happens a lot.  While sight is the single-most important sense a human relies on, it is often overlooked when it comes to keeping eyes safe.  Do you wear sunglasses on a sunny day to protect your eyes from the UV rays?  Sure.  Then why is it so hard to get a technician to put on safety glasses when stepping on the shop floor?

It starts with the shop culture; the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to ensure employees use appropriate eye and face protection when exposed to hazards.  This 2016 ruling must be enforced by management. How? Make safety cool and set an example.

No tech wants to wear the standard issue safety glasses; they want to look like super-cool, super-safe James Bond.

Unlike back in 1942, safety glasses today are stylish. Glasses now come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.  A shop owner once told me “I get my employees to wear glasses by allowing them to pick out their own style.  My only requirement? It has to meet ANSI-certified status.”  Why isn’t your shop doing this?  By allowing each technician to select their own version of “cool” safety glasses, it helps improve the chances of the technician actually wearing them.

Shop owner beware! There will be an upfront cost — but hear this – it will never outweigh the cost you will incur if you have even one serious eye injury in your shop.  Thousands of eye injuries have been avoided each year, due to the simple task of wearing ANSI-rated safety glasses. 

In addition to donating complimentary online safety training, the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) recently donated over 200 pairs of safety glasses to Girl Gang Garage in Phoenix, Arizona, for its upcoming custom vehicle build.  Girl Gang Garage, founded by Bogi Lateiner, is an all-female vehicle restoration program.

It is always important to focus on safety, but in the current state of the COVID-19 Pandemic — it is vital.  As a shop owner, make sure you do your part in the safety mission.

Stay safe and be cool.

About CCAR: The Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) is a non-profit organization with a focus on the automotive industry and its needs for safety and hazardous material compliance and training. Founded in 1994 with grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), CCAR is also one of the original Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) Alliance partners and is the only OSHA Ambassador focused on providing safety best practice information to the automotive collision and repair industries. CCAR has twice been recognized by the ASE Training Managers Council (ATMC) with its “National Excellence in Training” award and was chosen by the North American Hazmat Action Committee (NAAHAC) to develop hazardous material-handling training courses. To learn more about CCAR and its programs, please call 888.476.5465 or visit www.ccar-greenlink.org.

Katherine Henmueller is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and has been part of the Automotive Aftermarket for more than 10 years.  Specializing in safety education, Katherine worked with OSHA as a Certified Safety and Health Official; she currently works for (CCAR) in cooperation with OSHA and the EPA, providing best practices, information and training to collision and automotive repair shops, and others.  Katherine has contributed to several presentations and articles on automotive repair safety and hazardous material handling. 

You can email the MACS staff at macs@macsmobileclimate.org

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