Kevin Ian Schmidt

Linkedin profile tips and Job search

With the advancing world, how we live and work is constantly changing. Many industries that used to be labor-run are now automated, so working in a leadership position in any industry now is not how it used to be. There are many jobs that have become common due to the popularity of the internet, creating more job opportunities. The vastness of job opportunities and modern take on the job descriptions of many posts has made job searches around the world both more difficult and easier at the same time. The latter is because of the number of jobs available, while the former is observed because finding the right job between all of these opportunities becomes difficult. In fact, job searching is now a talent in itself.

LinkedIn is a service that serves simply as a Facebook for professionals, as many already call it. How it works is that any individual or organization can share their professional details online on a well-organized site that categorizes each type of experience, capabilities, and employment details. This serves as an online CV of a kind since many employers look at the LinkedIn profiles of people that they might employ.

While making it easy to look for jobs, LinkedIn also allows employers to research their potential employees and helps organizations and professionals connect with one another more easily.

This article will cover the job searching factor of LinkedIn, discussing how the service helps people look for jobs to find something that they are interested in and that they are suitable for, but first, let’s discuss how your LinkedIn shows how you are suitable for where you’re applying.

LinkedIn Profile Optimization

LinkedIn is a site with over 337 million professionals, making it one of the top networks for professional development as well as job searching. However, with all this traffic, it is difficult for an individual to stand out for any job. How you can assure this for yourself is by optimizing your LinkedIn profile to maximize your chances of successfully landing a job, which includes being able to build a powerful presence by making the most of its features and sharing your expertise.

Sharing All Your Necessary Professional Details

If you look at LinkedIn as an online, customizable CV, you will understand that adding information about yourself on this site will clearly be beneficial to those evaluating your profile. Completing and adding details about your employment history, including your current position, past positions, capabilities and skills, a professional picture of yourself or your industry, your education information as well your current industry and location makes for a LinkedIn profile that really sells itself.

Adding to all those details, you can also make your LinkedIn profile stand out by selecting a proper URL for yourself, which is SEO friendly as well as easy to remember. All of this is the basic information any user has to add for their profile to stand out.

Sharing Your Purpose

An excellent way to land a job is by fueling any chances to stand out in a recruitment search. The number one way to catch the eye of any recruiter to finally end that long job search of yours is to make your purpose clear.

Now, your purpose may be as simple as ‘looking for a job’ or can be tailored to explain with accurate detail what your purpose in the industry or for job searching is. Again, the latter can be simplified to a simple reason where one tells the type of job they’re searching for.


Getting recommendations from your peers is important. LinkedIn maintains and keeps these recommendations online, sharing them with professionals only. The peers that you get recommendations from may be one of your customers, colleagues, employers or people working for you.

Adding Skills

As stated before, this is a part of completing one’s professional profile on LinkedIn. Adding details about skills is much more sophisticated and professional on LinkedIn than just simply writing skills. Once you write about these skills, your peers and work group are sent a confirmation regarding this and the skills that are verified by people are known as endorsements.

Endorsements are very important for your LinkedIn profile as they show what skills you are known for, which would give the right impression to the recruiters as to why you’re suited for a job, hence making your job hunt easy for you.

Your Summary

We can look at this part of the LinkedIn profile as the very professional and influential counterpart of Facebook’s description. It has to be a precise summary about an individual’s professional life, what they have accomplished and what they have set out to accomplish. The summary can be about 200 characters long and is important for your profile to stand out, so be sure to write a precise and impressive summary that will catch the attention of recruiters.

Links to Relevant Websites

Add links to the websites of the organizations you work for, blogs you write, or any pages or publications that are relevant to your professional life. Editing these and adding in the right keywords for these sites is important too since it gives a good impression and helps recruiters browse through your online profile.

Order and Arrangement of Your Linkedin Profile

LinkedIn allows one to customize their profile considerably for ease of use and so that you may note down and showcase your accomplishments and abilities as best you can. One of the features that LinkedIn offers is the option to change the order of your profile to however you want it to be; the sections can be rearranged and suited especially for your professional profile. Rearranging the profile is easy too since all you require is a simple click-and-drag action to change the order.

Use Specific Keywords

What will help recruiters and potential connections find you is the use of precise and to-the-point keywords that you add to your profile. These have to be eye-catching and serve to give off a good impression. Another benefit that specific and catchy keywords provide is to search engine optimize your profile. The more relevant keywords you add, the more chances are of you to pop up on a Google search. This will help you end your job search by bringing organizations to you.

Add the Specifics

Writing about the projects you’ve worked on, the awards you’ve won, the causes you care about, and the places you’ve volunteered at will help brighten up your profile significantly. This will be the final touch to your profile and would help with your job hunt more than you think.

The causes you care about and the places you’ve volunteered at help describe how you are as a person and matter in the profile you’ve created for your job hunt.

Linkedin Job Search

Once your LinkedIn profile has been created and optimized to ensure you get some views every day or simply pull in a good audience, your job search will be made much easier since it increases your chance of getting selected by a lot. However, just optimizing your profile like this will only serve to increase your chances and raising the possibility of ending your job search altogether. Searching for a job yourself is a whole other story which requires patience and a very thorough approach.

This section of the article will cover how you can search for the jobs you are suited for so that you have a higher chance of landing one.

Check Out: Job Interview Ultimate Guide


After optimizing your profile and making sure all of your professional details are filled in and optimized for organizations, including a headline about your current job search status will let employers find you and scoop you in. However, this is very much a challenge, and although adding a catchy headline would draw in a number of views to your profile, if your profile isn’t edited to stand out, the headline won’t help with your job search at all.

Following Companies

LinkedIn offers more than just pages of individuals. This site with over 337 million professionals helps by making pages and details about companies themselves. These pages can be followed and it’ll be in your best interest to do that since that way, you’ll be up to date with the current events of every company while updating you if any of these companies is searching for people to recruit. This is a major step in your job search as your target companies will be right there for you. Thus, you can research about them as well as keep yourself up to date about any opportunities that arise.


While you’re searching for your job, a lot of things factor into finding just the right job. One of the most important steps you should follow is to increase your connections as much as possible and as soon as possible. After creating a good account, showcasing your abilities, getting recommendations and following companies, it’s very important to connect with as many individuals and organizations as possible. Remember that this will help you connect further with other people and all of these connections will be helpful for your career at more than just one point in your life.

I am always open to connecting with people on LinkedIn, here is my profile

So what this basically means that although LinkedIn profiles help showcase your skills and connect with people, nothing helps more than promoting yourself in person among your peers. So watch out for the people that can be of use to you. Keep a look out for well-known companies that you can work for or new and rising companies that you can help promote both in person and on the internet. As we mentioned before, this site is like a Facebook for professional connections, so even though making new connections through LinkedIn itself is efficient, it’s better to connect with people you have worked with, people you have worked for as well as the people working for you since you know their capabilities well and they know yours.

Contacting Peers

Once you have made connections, contacting them through LinkedIn is also easy since the site offers the option of messaging your connections privately. With a fully functional instant messaging option, you can manage your work optimally.

This feature also helps with job searches as you can contact many companies and individuals regarding your job directly through LinkedIn and keep track of the available positions and their current state.



A lot of things factor into a successful job search, including your achievements and capabilities, but what bears fruit in your job search is not the achievements themselves but how you showcase them. Adding what you learn from any experience and the skills you have learned throughout your personal life that will affect your professional life, pinpointing certain strengths, and using precise keywords will ensure that your LinkedIn profile is search engine optimized, which will, in turn, ensure that your profile pops up on searches on Google and other search engines whenever a search about a particular keyword is made.

Adding to that, completing your profile is necessary with the summary, causes you care about, recommendations, and the entirety of the sections listed above so that your profile provides all information to any recruiter. The advantage this gives you is significant and it can factor into your job search well enough for better job opportunities.

In conclusion, the jobs out there are numerous, but ironically, finding jobs – especially the right one – is really an issue many of us face. In fact, job hunts of even the most capable of people bear no fruit until they finally catch their big break, so LinkedIn is a service that comes in very handy. Keep all of the tips mentioned above in mind, keep seeking opportunities and stay vigilant in your job search because on LinkedIn, the right job is just a few clicks away.

Effective Communication Skills: LISTENING

An important aspect of enhancing one’s communication skills is becoming a good listener.

People tend to place the emphasis on speaking as the most important aspect of communication, but this is not necessarily so. Breaking down the percentage of time spent throughout the day for an average

person engaged in one of the four aspects of communication:

  • Listening-42%
  • Talking-32%
  • Reading-15%
  • Writing-11%

The reality is that the majority of people only listen for approximately 25 percent of the time. And in many cases, most people only listen to the first couple of words from a speaker before starting to formulate a response in their minds. There is a distinct difference between listening and hearing.

Merriam-Webster (1994) describes “hearing” as: “the process, function, or power of perceiving sound” (pg. 346).

Merriam-Webster (1994) describe “listen” as: “to pay attention in order to hear” (pg. 433).

The key to becoming a better listening is to stop simply hearing what someone is saying and to start listening to what is being said.

The following are some suggestions for becoming a better active listener:

  • Do No Interrupt.

To become an effective listener, wait until the speaker is finished before providing feedback or expressing opinion. People have a tendency to become impatient while listening and cannot wait for the speaker to finish. Not only is this rude, but it will drastically limit the information exchange and damage the communication process.

Check Out: Effective Communication Skills – NONVERBAL
  • Do Not Jump to Conclusions.

Do not assume that you know what the speaker is going to say. People can process information faster than one can speak (up to three times faster). For this reason, one might start formulating a response before receiving all the necessary information. This can lead to confusion and poor response on behalf of the listener.

  • Do Not Judge the Speaker.

Do not allow ones opinion of the speaker to interfere with the message being received. The speaker’s accent, speed of delivery (talks too fast or too slow), appearance, and age are just a few factors that can create bias and limit effective listening. Concentrate on the content of the message, not on the speaker.

  • Take Notes to Hold Interest.

Not only is taking notes a good way of retaining information for a later time, but it also helps the listener maintain interest, shows the speaker that you are paying attention, and helps eliminate distractions.

  • Ask Questions.

Asking good questions, paraphrasing, and providing feedback are essential to good listening. This will help one listen more carefully and will also strengthen the relationship between the speaker and the listener. Good listeners play an active role in the communication process including head nodding, eye contact, and asking questions. Some rewards for becoming a good listener include “expansion of knowledge, vocabulary development and language development, ability to evaluate messages, passing examinations, saving time, accruing financial benefits, and short-cutting acquisition of knowledge. This will also help in the areas of public relations, investigations, and crisis/emergency management situations.

By using these listening suggestions, practicing them, and putting them into action, the security officer can maintain an open line of communication and will be better able to obtain sufficient information for reporting to supervisors and preparing for investigations. The security officer will also be able to gather this information while continuing to project a professional image on behalf of his or her employer.

How important do you feel listening is as part of effective communication?

Effective Communication Skills: NONVERBAL

Another aspect of effective communication is a basic understanding of body language. Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of a spoken message’s meaning can be determined by nonverbal gestures. It is claimed that only 15 percent of what is said is verbal and at least 85 percent of interpersonal communications are nonverbal.

For this reason, it is important for the speaker and the listener to be aware of three important characteristics and principles of nonverbal communications.

First, most nonverbal communication is automatic and unconscious. This means that it is essentially more difficult for the speaker and the listener to control their nonverbal responses than their verbal ones. It is because of this factor that most people will place more emphasis on the meaning of nonverbal clues as opposed to the actual spoken message. It is equally important for the speaker to be aware of their own body language in order to make certain they are conveying the message without contradiction to the verbal message.

Second, if there is an attempt by one person to deceive another with words, there will likely be a conflict betrayed by leakage of nonverbal cues. This means that a false statement provided by the speaker will likely be accompanied by a nonverbal cue, or nonverbal leakage, which actually represents the truth. One should also be aware of a conscious effort on behalf of the speaker to suppress nonverbal responses. For example, if one attempts to control their facial expression while providing a false statement, one might unconsciously display the truth through nonverbal expressions of the hands or feet.

The third characteristic to consider is that different types of nonverbal cues are usually interconnected and congruent in manifesting the same attitude or emotion. This is how two different people listening to the same story can come to the same conclusion despite paying attention to different types of communication cues. One might be more aware of the tone of voice of the speaker, while the other pays more attention to the visual cues, yet both interpret the same meaning of the message.

The following are some examples of nonverbal cues to be aware of for improving ones effective communication skills:

  • Eye Behavior

This includes eye contact, tears, and pupil dilation. Eye contact can signify a willingness to listen and truth (direct) or avoidance and deception (no contact or very little contact.) Tears can indicate a wide variety of emotions, but most importantly, they tend to indicate the strength of the feeling. The dilation of pupils can be a good indicator of alarm, excitement, interest, and satisfaction. Conversely, the contraction of pupils can represent lack of interest, boredom, or tranquility.

  • Facial Expression and Head Movements

The human face is capable of expressing more than one emotion at a time. However, the mouth of the speaker is more restricted than the eyes. There are different degrees of smiles, different degrees of spontaneity of smiles, and different degrees of congruity with the expression of other parts of the face, particularly the eyes. Because of this, it is very difficult to interpret the movements of the mouth and their meanings. One should seek additional training opportunities to become proficient in this area. Head movements such as up and down, which normally indicates agreement, or back and forth, which normally indicates disagreement are common. These movements can be very subtle during conversation, but can be very helpful in determining attitudes.

  • Shoulders

Shoulders can be a good indicator of stress. As tension begins to rise, so will one’s shoulders. Conversely, as one becomes more relaxed, so will the shoulders

  • Arms and Hands

Arms folded across the chest, animated talking with arms and hands, trembling or fidgety hands, fidgeting with an object while speaking, playing with hair, clenched fists, and pounding the table are just a few of the many indicators with arms and hands. Most of these will be self-explanatory to the observer and will likely provide the bulk of the nonverbal cues within a conversation.

Check Out: 5 Nonverbal Indicators in Interviews

These are just a few examples of nonverbal cues for the security professional to be aware of when conducting an interview or simply carrying on a conversation within the normal scope of duties. It is very important to keep in mind the different personalities and different cultural beliefs one might encounter when interpreting nonverbal cues. Do not jump to conclusions and be certain to take in the whole picture before making an evaluation.


Job Interview Ultimate Guide

A job interview is obviously something that must occur when seeking a job as a security guard, and many people get very stressed out over a job interview. This job guide will help you relax and be prepared for the interview.

Major Considerations During a Job Interview

Make a Connection with the Interviewer

Depending on how popular or sought after the job you are interviewing for is you will have a lot of competition for a few positions. A stellar interview is crucial to make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. To give yourself an added edge and cement yourself in your interviewer’s mind, try to make a personal connection with them at some point in the interview.

A personal connection can take numerous forms. If you are in the interviewer’s office and they have a picture of a sailboat on their wall (and you happen to love sailing), make an appropriate comment that identifies you as a sailor too. This may not put you above others more qualified than you but it will help you to stand out amongst those you are in direct competition with.

Take your cues from the interviewer, if they seem uncomfortable with relaying any personal information or are not comfortable veering off topic then follow their lead. If a personal conversation does develop, let the interviewer guide it. When they bring it to a close and either get back to the questions or say good bye, leave it at that.

At the end of the day, interviewers want to hire people that are qualified and who will fit in with the rest of the team at the company. If you can make a connection and have the right skill sets you will be giving yourself a better chance than someone else. You will also help the interviewer recall who you are and stick out in their mind as that candidate who knew a lot about sailing.

If you are not comfortable with discussing personal topics during an interview, don’t feel that you must go out of your way to do so. At the end of the day, your qualifications are what you should be highlighting.

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Pauses and Silences are Okay

There are going to be a lot of periods during an interview when there are going to be pauses in conversation or flat out silence. This can be initiated by you or the interviewer and in most cases either is not an indicator that something isn’t going good.

You can ask for a moment to think of an answer and during this time there is most likely going to be complete silence. This is fine and perfectly normal, don’t get distracted because no one is talking, use the time you have asked for wisely and think of the best answer or example you can give.

If the interviewer is taking notes (and most likely they are), be comfortable with the fact that there is going to be pauses in between questions and they try and write everything down. This is actually a good thing because it means they have liked what you have to say and want to remember it when they are later making a decision on who to hire. Don’t feel the need to fill this space, let them continue writing and wait for the next question.

If you have answered a question and it is met by silence and the interviewer is not writing anything down, you may be at a loss as to what you should do. It could signal that the interviewer is expecting more information or they are not satisfied with the answer. You won’t know unless you ask, “Do you want me to elaborate on that?” If the answer is no, just patiently wait for the next question to be asked.

Don’t worry that the interviewer is not praising you on your answer to each question and continue onto the next one. They do not want to give you an indication of how you are doing during the interview and are trained to be neutral when responding to answers, if the respond at all.

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Procedural Questions

Procedures are a part of life, especially in the working world. Each company has their own set of policies and rules that they expect their employees to follow. An interviewer is going to ask questions to determine if you would do things they way they want (for instance making a sale or handling a customer complaint). Without training, you will not know with any degree of certainty how the company would want you to handle different situations but there are ways to answer that can increase your chances of getting the job.

What an interviewer is looking for in an answer is your philosophy towards circumstances that occur in the company. Your natural instincts and personality is going to come through at some point no matter what you have been trained to do. Questions like, “How would you satisfy a customer if they wanted to return something after the return policy has expired?” can be tricky to answer. The best way to answer them is to begin with saying, “Of course, if hired I would abide by the company’s guidelines – but in this circumstance I would…”

By starting your answer with this phrase you are showing that you recognize a company is going to have its own policies and ways of doing things and that you are flexible enough to modify your way of doing things to align with those processes. Even role playing scenarios for are a test to see if your way of thinking is in line with the
company’s. This genre of question can backfire on you though if your answer is completely opposite what the company is looking for. If you have done your research on the company prior to the interview you should have a good idea of how they handle customers and sales in general.

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Answers Should be Thorough but to the Point

If you love to talk and when you are nervous can go on and on, or if you are the opposite and clam up when you are in a stressful situation – you need to be conscious of this and not do either in an interview. When asked a question, an interview wants enough information that will help them understand what you are talking about, but not extraneous irrelevant information.

If you are answering a question using an example from your previous or current job and there is a lot of jargon or acronyms – try to use more a common place term that people are familiar with or explain what you mean in the beginning. If you are asked to describe a time when you lead a project – explain what the project was about, how many people you managed and any key points that demonstrate what a great job you did. What you don’t want to do is get side-tracked and give details that aren’t relevant to the question. The interviewer is not going to be interested in a play by play of the entire project – they want to know your role in it.

Keep on topic; take a moment before answering a question to organize the details in your mind. You don’t want to start answering, get sidetracked and forget the point you were trying to make. If you stay on topic and know what you are going to say, you are going to be able to keep the interviewer’s attention.

If you are a person of few words, practice with a friend or family member before your interview. Learn how to expand your answers so you give thorough information without living the interviewer wanting more. But if you are in doubt, less is better – an interviewer will ask follow-up questions if necessary.

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Ask the Interviewer Questions

Okay, you have made it to the end of your interview and the interviewer says it is now your turn. They want to know if you have any questions for them. And most likely you do: “How did I do” and “Are you going to hire me” – unfortunately you can’t ask either one. But there are questions that you can ask to glean some information on how you performed and to determine if the company is a right fit for you.

Although it is not acceptable to ask how you did in an interview, it is okay and encouraged to ask what the next steps are and the timeline for them. Depending on how this is answered, you may be able to figure out their reaction to you. But this is not full-proof and is not a guarantee. If they take the time to explain all the checks they need to go through, how many people they have left to interview and so on, they are probably interested and want you to understand that there is still steps left in the process. If they only tell you that you will hear from them within a certain period of time via letter, well it isn’t as promising.

Look at the opportunity to ask your own questions as your chance to interview the company. Of course you have done your research prior to attending and have made up a list that you wrote down before attending. Show your preparedness and pull out the list to ask your questions. Things like company direction and expansion show an interest in the business. Feel free to take notes; it can earn you brownie points. Ask questions that are important to you as well, if vacation time and benefits are a deal breaker for you, find out now what the company has to offer.

EHS professionals ignore employee health

Quit Ignoring Employee Health

In the current world, with COVID, many EHS professionals find themselves talking more and more about employee health, being in charge of health aspects of employees that they never considered part of their jobs.

This is a great time  to talk about the H in EHS.

As EHS professionals, we all know our responsibilities in environmental and safety, but often overlook the health aspect of the job. Sure, some say “health” falls in line with “environmental” and “safety”, because it is all about the health of an employee, but I think we should do more for the “health” of employees. Because if we drive health as part of our total strategy, it can actually improve workplace safety in the long run.

Does this mean we should be talking about gyms and how to workout? No. We don’t even need to reinvent the wheel, because many companies already have programs that we can utilize and champion for employee safety.

How many EHS professionals can talk of their company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can offer things such as:

  • Fitness, Nutrition, Weight Loss Programs and Incentives
  • Health and Wellness Resources
  • Stress Management Assistance
  • Parenting and Family Issues
  • Elder and Child Care Resource Locators
  • Personal Finance and Education
  • Retirement Planning Assistance
  • Debt Counseling and Debt Restructuring
  • Wills, Forms and Legal Templates
  • Legal Information
  • Stress, Grief, Depression and Trauma Counseling Services
  • Mental and Behavioral Health Counseling Services and Assistance
  • Domestic and Workplace Violence Resource Center
  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Abuse Counseling Assistance

These sort of things can help employees deal with the stress, pressure, and issues going on in their personal lives, which can lead to issues at work.

If someone is stressing about financial issues at home, they can be distracted, which can lead to an injury.

So as EHS professionals, why do we so often, let HR drive these programs? Why do we allow these programs to be talked about once in awhile?

Why are we not the champions for a program like this? It clearly can help employee health, but too often, EHS professionals don’t concentrate on the health of employees is this manner. And I often wonder why not?

Check Out: Corporate Volunteering Leads to Engaged Employees

Even looking beyond EAP, many workplaces have Employee Wellness Programs, which are often tied to health  insurance, and have direct incentives to improving employee health, but far too few EHS professionals can talk about these program, and even fewer champion them.

Now let’s consider, what these sort of programs can offer:

  • Wellness Screenings
  • Life Coaching Sessions
  • Wellness Challenges
  • Ergonomic Services
  • Movement efficiency testing – pre and post employment
  • Post-offer employment testing
  • Early intervention programs
  • Physical and occupational therapy

These are great resources, and are something that as EHS professionals, we should be touting, but too often they are overlooked, not talked about, or not even realized they are available.

In fact many corporate wellness programs are a once a year thing to talk about, which means that essentially the program is a failure. Or worse, the company wellness program is just an afterthought, something listed in a benefits guide, an never talked about.

There are many resources talking about the failures of corporate wellness programs, I would like to highlight a list I found of the failings, so we can talk about it a bit more.

14 Reasons Many Corporate Health and Wellness Programs Fail

  1. Activity vs Results Oriented Wellness Efforts
  2. Overly Complicated Programming. Simpler is Always Better for your Corporate Health and Wellness Program
  3. Incentives That Use Sticks Rather Than Carrots
  4. Use Eisting Staff to Design and Run the Corporate Health and Wellness Program
  5. Poor Leadership Support
  6. Fail to Create a Health Promoting Culture and Environment
  7. Incentivizing the Wrong Things
  8. Expect a Static Wellness Portal to Be a Wellness Program
  9. Poor Communications within your Corporate Health and Wellness Program
  10. Don’t Include Spouses and Significant Others
  11. Don’t Have a Functioning Wellness Committee
  12. Keep the Corporate Health and Wellness Program in a Silo.
  13. Treat the Wellness Program as a Perk, Not a Benefit
  14. Poor Program Marketing

So reason 14, Poor Program Marketing, is something a department focused on employee HEALTH should own, or at least support. Sure, some may say “our liability ends at the door”, but that isn’t a basic fact. Employees bring their health to work, if they have poor health, or undo stress, it can impact their work, it can cause distractions, it can cause attendance issues. All of which does impact the workplace.


I believe more EHS departments need to focus on the H a bit more, especially in the world today.

What do you think?

Successfully Persuade People That Workplace Injuries Are Preventable

Before you try and introduce the concept of a zero injury workplace, you will need to spend some time putting some thought and planning into the possible obstacles you will face. Think about the people who are going to be affected by a different safety regime and identify the people who are likely to resist the change. What sort of things will they say based on their understanding of safety and workplace incidents? At this stage it may pay to check up on their beliefs so that you can formulate a plan to handle any resistance that they may put up. It is much better to spend the time now before you act because if you plan now, you will find the introduction of the safety concept much easier.

“I Have Always Done it That Way”

In most work groups you will find a veteran worker who has been with the organization for some time and commands a certain degree of influence over the others. They often have very fixed ideas and require some work to open up their minds to change. These people are best dealt with as individuals before you have any group meetings. If you can persuade these people they will be on your side and support your safety initiative. If you fail to do this, they will prove to be very disruptive and influential in making the transition difficult.

The best way of introducing the concept to these individuals is to get agreement first of all that the objective of a safer workplace is beneficial to everyone. This may take a little while but it is very important to the success of the change. Start a dialogue with them and get their agreement that it would be a good initiative and that it was possible. This may reveal the first hurdle to overcome. Many people believe that accidents happen and have never thought through the process of discovering the causes. As a result, they are generally pretty convinced that you can’t prevent injuries.

Prior to the conversation or conversations, plan your strategy, build up your case and work out how you are going to present the information. You can gently take them through the process of a workplace incident and point out the causes that would normally include unsafe behavior and unsafe conditions. This will enable you to focus on causes and the human factor. A recent workplace accident that they are familiar with will make it relevant to their workplace and have considerably more influence over them.

As you gradually get your points across you will still meet a little resistance. Frequently, the person may use the example of someone being struck by lightning as not being preventable. At this point you can agree with them but also remind them that it is an extremely rare event and it normally doesn’t happen at work.

Emphasize the prevention aspects of safety because all employers have a duty to keep them as safe as possible and reduce harm. Explain to the veteran employee that they have a lot of influence and you would like them to direct it to helping to prevent incidents and injuries in the workplace.

Check Out: Ignoring Workplace Safety

Arguments for “Accidents will happen”

There are some compelling arguments against the philosophy that all accidents are preventable, which must be considered when trying to change a safety culture. Here are five examples:

  • Argument #1 – How can an accident be preventable if it is unforeseeable?
  • Argument #2 – How can you prevent an accident if it was caused by nothing more than a random equipment failure or PPE failure?
  • Argument #3 – How can you prevent an accident that was precipitated by an act of nature?
  • Argument #4 – How can you prevent an accident that was due to an act of sabotage or terrorism?
  • Argument #5 – How can you remove the law of chance which dictates that sooner or later, every imperfect person will have a careless moment or be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

While these arguments may sound compelling, it may be hasty to accept them at face value.  With the first argument, for instance, it does not hold up when you consider that even a lack of foresight can be prevented. Would the foresight not be improved by greater experience, better training, a more effective job safety analysis, manufacturer’s data or historical records of similar incidences? And foresight is greatly improved when workers are taught, not to only do a JSA at the beginning of the job, but to continuously risk assess their every move during the job.

Root cause is not random: With the second argument, even what appears to be a random failure can be traced back to a root cause that drives you back to how it could have been prevented. Could the failure not be prevented by better design, better operational practices, better maintenance or better monitoring?

Check Out what I offer on root causes here and also on Amazon

Acts of nature are not accidents: With the third argument, an act of nature should not fall into the category of accidents, but into the category referred to by lawyers as “Acts of God.” In other words, while these are not preventable, neither are they accidents. Having said that, many “Acts of God” do follow a pattern, such as the weather, and many can be detected beforehand such as earthquakes and volcanoes, giving us the ability to prevent even many “Acts of God” mishaps.

Don’t confuse safety with security: With the fourth argument, sabotage and terrorism are not accidents, but injuries or near misses that were intentional and planned. Those are not safety issues, but rather security issues.

Reduce the odds: The fifth argument is perhaps my favorite. I think we sometimes treat “chance” as an entity that is capable of exerting force or influence. If we are referring to mathematical probability, this is a different story and serves only to prove our point that it is possible to prevent all accidents.

Like any well-constructed building, employees need sturdy pillars of support in order to become active, dedicated participants in the creation of a safe workplace. The four main pillars are:

  • Education: No matter the type of company or operation, education is the primary tool for increasing the safety knowledge of employees. Employers should make a strong commitment to providing primary and continuing safety education that keeps their employees up to date and fully informed about the latest advances and the most current expert thinking. Team building exercises can be added to educational opportunities to encourage a collective spirit.
  • Communication: The free and continuous flow of information between management and employees is critical to building trust, promoting awareness, preventing and addressing problems and furthering education. Encourage the early communication of potential hazards and remediation options without fear of disciplinary action.
  • Recognition: Positive feedback and recognition for safe behavior and safety program contributions will encourage proactive safety thinking that moves beyond a focus on baseline requirements. Acknowledge and address mistakes, but keep the primary focus on achievements or opportunities for doing better next time.
  • Checks and Balances: To maintain integrity and optimize results, a system of checks and balances that includes both internal and external regulations and guidelines must be clearly outlined and understood by all. Some of these checks and balances include safety policies and procedures; safe operating practices; and federal, state and local regulations.

In addition to working consistently to strengthen the four pillars, other guiding philosophies may be utilized to promote a safety culture that supports a strong employee foundation:

  • Do not automatically blame individuals for near misses and mistakes. Instead, look for systemic causes.
  • Take pride in publicly promoting a great safety record and pointing to employee safety innovations and achievements.
  • Build safety into daily processes. Make safety a way of life.
Check Out: Near Miss Program

Why Employees Take Risks

If you want employees to make real changes, you need to connect with their current perspective and understand why they take risks on the job. Understanding the current problems that keep workers from being as safe as they could be lets you know the underlying values and assumptions you need to reshape to effectively change the culture. Here are just a few of the common reasons why your employees may be risking their safety:

  • They don’t believe safety measures are important to their superiors.
  • They feel invincible after having done a task so many times without incident.
  • They assume cutting a safety corner here or there won’t be enough to get them hurt.
  • They are in a hurry and believe speed is more important than safety.
  • They are unaware of hazards because they lack proper training.

Starting with employees’ motivations for taking risks or their lack of motivation for committing to safe work practices is critical if you want to make lasting changes. Underlying beliefs and values are what make up a culture, so to change the culture, you must shift these beliefs and values.


Eight tips for motivating employees to work safely.

These tips aren’t about strong-arming employees. They are all ways to get employees engaged with the safety culture, so they’re eager to embrace positive change.

1. Identify Safety Hazards: Before you dive into the work of raising your organization’s standards for safety, take some time to establish what hazards present the most significant risks to your company. Safety hazards differ from industry to industry, from company to company and facility to facility, so make sure you look beyond the common hazards to see what may present a risk at your business.

Check Out: PPE Hazard Assessment and Certification

OSHA provides six actionable steps to help you successfully identify and assess problem areas present at your business. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, these steps can help direct you as you note all safety and health hazards. If you encounter safety issues you can remedy right away, be proactive in fixing them. However, most problems you discover will likely be unavoidable risks that come with the work you do. Take careful note of the trouble spots you identify, and ask employees to contribute their observations about workplace hazards.

2. Emphasize the Big Picture: When you start to work with your employees to change the workplace culture, make sure you don’t limit your focus to specific hazards or to rules and regulations. These specifics are undoubtedly critical, but you want to make sure you frame them within a broader picture of your company’s overall goals for improving safety.

Share your vision for an improved safety culture with your employees and let them know this is why you plan to emphasize new safety strategies. If employees don’t understand the why behind training or other objectives, they’re less likely to be supportive and engage. If you have a specific goal in mind for how many work-related injuries or illnesses you want to eliminate, for instance, share this goal with employees so they can rally around it.

3. Share Real-Life Examples: One of the best tips to motivating employees to work safely is to provide real-life examples. It’s OK to share stories of fatal or severe injuries or illnesses that resulted from unsafe practices. However, your overall strategy shouldn’t be to scare your employees into submission or to deride them for their current shortcomings. Rather than focus on negative examples, try highlighting success stories.

You may need to pull these success stories from other companies, and that’s completely fine. Try to find concrete examples that show demonstrable results from a concentrated effort to improve safety. How many accidents was the company able to eliminate on average? Real-life examples and success stories, in particular, can help inspire your employees and remind them positive change is always within reach.

4. Involve Employees and Reward Their Efforts: A great way to get buy-in from your employees is to involve them in your efforts to improve your company’s safety culture. Ask them for ideas as you plan. You can also create focus groups of employees at various levels and areas of your organization to get more in-depth perspectives on why they take risks and what’s lacking in your current safety culture.

Check Out: How to Set Goals for Safety Performance

Another way to engage employees is with positive reinforcement. When you see employees taking positive steps to adopt better safety practices, or when you overhear an authentic conversation about safety, find ways to reward their efforts. The simplest and perhaps most effective way is through verbal praise. Let them know how much you appreciate them doing their part to elevate the safety culture across your organization.

5. Lead by Example: To change the culture among your employees, you and the rest of senior and mid-level management must demonstrate the values and beliefs you want your employees to adopt. If you don’t have buy-in from management, you can’t expect your company’s safety culture to improve. It starts at the top and should trickle down from there. You want positive safety practices to become contagious and catch on across all areas and levels of your organization.

As we saw earlier, one of the reasons employees cut corners when it comes to safety is because they don’t believe it’s a priority for their superiors. They may feel getting the job done quickly is more important, for example. Make sure your employees know safety takes precedence over speed or anything else. You can put your money where your mouth is by investing in things like safety training programs, better personal protective equipment or more eye-catching signage.

6. Investigate Safety Incidents More Thoroughly: If a safety incident occurs, you should investigate it thoroughly to get to the bottom of what caused the problem. Examining issues in-depth may reveal underlying problems you can remedy. For example, you may find workers should have more protection when working in a specific area, or you may discover you need to fix a tripping hazard on the floor. In addition to committing to more detailed investigations of safety incidents, you should also commit to taking employee feedback about safety more seriously.

Learn more about Incident Investigation

Ask employees to submit reports of any safety hazards they encounter and to be forthcoming about accidents that occur. When you receive reports of possible risks, even if you don’t agree, take time to investigate them and see if you can do anything to remedy them. Remember, employees who are working on the factory floor, in the lab or at the construction site may know more about the dangers they face daily than you do, so trust their input.

7. Choose the Best Training Courses: The first question for many organizations aiming to improve workplace safety is, “What training program should I use?” Before you devote all your focus to answering this question, remember even the best training course may fall on deaf ears if your employees don’t prioritize safety or don’t see the need for training. That’s why working to elevate the whole safety culture is so critical. That said, one concern you’ll likely have when it comes to a training course is the logistics of it all.

Check Out: How to Put Together a Workplace Safety Training Workshop

The idea of gathering all your employees into a room and hiring someone to conduct training may seem like a daunting task — especially if your employees are across multiple locations or work different schedules. Online training solves this problem, as each worker can do it at a time and place that’s convenient for them. Giving employees more autonomy over their required training may help them feel more in control, rather than feeling frustrated by a mandatory lecture series. Look for online workplace safety courses that offer a corporate discount.

8. Prioritize Ongoing Training: Training is essential, but bad habits can still take over when workers’ hyper-awareness of safety wears off. That’s why training can’t be a one-off occurrence. OSHA requires employers to make sure their workers receive annual health and safety training. Don’t view this requirement as a burden. If you do, so will your employees. Instead, embrace it as a much-needed opportunity to reaffirm your ongoing commitment to safety, to remind employees of safety practices and to update them on new developments.

Check Out: 10 Reasons Why Safety Training is often Ineffective

You may also want to encourage or even require employees who work in particular areas to complete specialized training that addresses the dangers of their work more specifically than your generalized training might. Online training is an excellent option here. For example, if some of your employees work in a confined space, they should take a course dedicated to safety in this environment. If they lift heavy objects, they should take a course on back injury prevention and safe lifting techniques.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to enjoy their job and stay injury-free. When it comes to attracting and retaining quality employees, employee safety and engagement matters. For companies facing high turnover and injury rates, emphasizing injury prevention through a sustained safety program can strengthen the safety culture as a whole and inevitably have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.


how to write effective incident reports

Incident Report Writing Guide

Objectivity is vital when writing a report. A judge or investigator probably won’t dismiss the validity of a report if you’ve made a grammatical mistake. But if your report lacks objectivity, it may be viewed as a document full of opinion over facts.

Providing specific details is the key to writing an objective report.  When you arrive at a scene or conduct an interview, descriptive words immediately come to mind: suspicious, inebriated, aggressive, disoriented, and similar words.

But professional report writing practices require you to omit these categories and conclusions. You state only facts and details, leaving it to your reader to draw conclusions.

These requirements seem to defy common sense–but there are good reasons for them. Facts and details:

  • Facilitate follow-up investigations: Recording exactly what a witness or involved party says can be a huge help to anyone reading the report.
  • Prevent challenges: People can’t argue that you jumped to conclusions if you list the behaviors and actions that preceded the incident.
  • Avoid embarrassment: If you announce in a report a definitive list of actions based upon opinions and witness testimonies, a defense attorney or insurance reviewer might point out errors in your reasoning. Just state the fact: describe the scene(include pictures/video when possible), describe the incident exactly, describe any injuries.
Check Out: Ten Safety Tips at Work

Here’s a comparison of generalizations you should avoid and details you could use instead:

  • confused (Better: could not state location or details clearly)
  • afraid (Better: whispered the answers to my questions, hands were shaking)
  • reckless (Better: driving too fast for conditions, crossed into pedestrian walkpath)
  • careless(Better: sign posted for team lift, employee picked it up alone)

While you’re thinking about objectivity, it’s important to be aware of some myths about reports. Writing in third person instead of “I” does not guarantee objectivity. (If only it were that simple!)

Similar outdated expressions like “Victim 1” and “Witness 2” are equally useless. They create confusion and waste time, especially if you’re preparing for a court hearing six months after the incident occurred. Use real full names whenever possible.

What about objectionable language? Insensitive labels like “crazy,” “crippled,” and “lazy” don’t belong in a professional report, with one important exception: If you’re directly quoting an involved party or witness who used them. The same principle applies to obscenities and slang..

Following these guidelines testifies to your professionalism, and they can provide a valuable service to your companyn as well. Train yourself to observe, remember, and record exactly what you’ve seen and heard: That effort will pay off again and again in your criminal justice career.


Report Writing Checklist

1. Think about the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why. If you’re writing on paper, most of this information will go into your opening sentence. If you’re writing on a laptop or using a template, make sure you’ve filled in the spaces accurately and thoroughly.

2. Include full names and contact information for witnesses, victims, and suspects (if available). If you interview someone who may be important to the investigation, get a backup phone number, such as a relative, friend, or workplace. Many people change phone numbers frequently, and an alternative number can help solve a case.

Check Out: The Challenge of Employees to Report All Incidents

3. Include the results of each investigation you did: temperature measurements, distances, recreations, etc…. Omitting results is one of the most common mistakes that investigators make. Result: Confusion, wasted time, and sometimes a missed opportunity to solve or prosecute a case.

4. Start each sentence with a person, place, or thing UNLESS you have absolute confidence in your writing ability. Keeping sentences simple prevents a multitude of writing errors.

5. Avoid outdated report practices. Old-fashioned words like “above mentioned,” “ascertained,” and “respective” waste time and cause confusion when you’re preparing for a court hearing. For example, what did you mean when you said you “ascertained” something? A witness told you? You saw it? You came across a useful piece of evidence? Explain in detail.

6. Clearly state who did what (in other words, use active voice). Contrary to popular belief, passive voice doesn’t magically make you honest, objective, or professional. Those are qualities you have to commit to and work on. Passive voice can create confusion if several officers are working a scene: Six months later, in court, are you going to remember who did what at the scene?

7. Make sure the disposition part of your report is complete: If you found useful evidence at the scene, did you thoroughly cover the chain of custody? Did you describe injuries in detail? What was the outcome for victims and suspects?

8. Avoid generalizations and hunches, which can open you up to challenges in a courtroom later. Statements like “I knew Harris was lying” and “Johnson seemed nervous” don’t belong in a professional report. Stick to factual descriptions: “Harris told me they were heading to Porter City, but his wife told me they were going to Hicksville.” “Johnson’s hands were shaking, and he looked over his shoulder 10 times in less than five minutes.”

9. Avoid slang and insensitive language unless you’re quoting someone’s exact words. Sexist language, vulgarities, and other unprofessional terminology can embarrass you if a district attorney, newspaper reporter, judge, or community leader reads your report.

Preventing Tech and Mechanic Injuries

Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics injury and illness report, automotive techs and mechanics experience 13,150 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses resulting in valuable time away from work. Auto mechanics and technicians work with dangerous machinery, tools and chemicals, often in cramped spots, which puts them at greater risk for a workplace injury.

Just one workplace injury can have many negative repercussions beyond the employees’ injury.

For business owners, these could include higher wage replacement or medical costs, repairs to damaged equipment and increased workers’ compensation insurance premiums.  Business owners can help keep employees safe by understanding the common causes of auto shop accidents, providing regular training and requiring all staff to follow important safety procedures. There are many private organizations that can provide local on-site training and materials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides comprehensive standards information online to help business owners keep employees safe and stay in compliance.

These tips can improve the safety of auto mechanics and help them avoid accidents.

For injured employees, these could be the loss of wages or worse a life altering injury. Employees should also strive to work safely, and ask for guidance of tasks in which they are unsure on how to work safely. To get this buy-in from employees, it requires a strong safety culture built around reporting all issues, and hazard identification.

If you need toolbox talks for your employees, I have published on Amazon the following:

Below are the most common injuries and illnesses  mechanics and technicians experience at work, as well as practical steps to mitigate auto shop injuries:

  • Sprains, strains and tears. These are the leading injuries sustained by auto mechanics and auto technicians. Repetitive motions while working under the chassis or hood can increase the likelihood of a sprain or strain. Lifting and lowering machinery and heavy tools can also contribute to these types of injuries. A few minutes of morning warm-up exercises can make a big difference in the health and safety of workers.
    • Proper Lifting – Mechanics work with vehicle lifts on a regular basis and have to lift heavy auto parts and other heavy items. Using proper lifting techniques is extremely important, as lifting properly can prevent back injuries and other types of accidents. Workers should bend their knees while lifting and use the power of their legs to pick up objects. A mechanic should never bend over and lift with the back, as this can cause muscle strains and other injuries. Workers should use caution when working with vehicle lifts, as using them improperly can cause crush injuries and even deaths.
      • Back Safety & Lifting Technique: Virginia Commonwealth University explains how to lift properly to prevent back injuries.
      • Material Handling Program (PDF): The University of Texas at Austin provides tips for safe manual and mechanical lifting.
      • Forklift Safety (PDF): Mechanics sometimes need to use forklifts to move heavy parts. This resource from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration explains how to use this equipment safely.

Consider implementing a low-cost workplace stretch-and-flex program. These low-impact exercises can help reduce sprains, strains and tears.

Check Out: Safe Lifting and Carrying Training
  • Eye injuries. Each day, approximately 2,000 U.S. workers sustain a work-related eye injury that requires medical attention. Working under cars and hoods puts auto shop workers at particular risk for these kinds of injuries. .
    • Eye Protection – Mechanics have an increased risk of eye injury because of the work they do with chemicals and small auto parts. Auto shop workers should always wear eye safety equipment when working with chemicals, welding, grinding, or performing any work that poses a risk of injury. Safety goggles should surround the eyes completely to prevent debris or liquids from entering the eye.
      • Eye Protection in the Workplace: This article from the U.S. Department of Labor explains the most common causes of eye injuries in the workplace and discusses the prevention of these injuries.
      • Eye Safety Checklist: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a checklist for preventing eye injuries in the workplace.

The best way to prevent them is to make sure workers wear safety glasses at all times

  • Chemical burns. Flammable and hazardous liquids and chemicals should be properly labeled following Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. Labels are required to have a pictogram; a signal word, like “danger”; hazard and precautionary statements; the product name and the supplier identification. They also need to include safety handling information and what to do in case of exposure. It’s also important to routinely check containers around the shop to make sure lids fit tightly and there is no spillage or leakage.
    • Chemical Burns – Solvents, paints, vehicle fluids, and other chemicals can cause poisoning if ingested or if they come into contact with the skin for a long period of time. Mechanics should avoid eating and drinking in their work areas, as chemicals can contaminate foods and beverages. All chemicals should be labeled so that there is no question as to what each fluid container holds. Mechanic shops should have material safety data sheets where they can be quickly and easily found, as the information on these sheets can help poison control workers determine the best way to treat a chemical poisoning victim.

Workers should wear protective gloves and glasses any time they handle chemicals.

Check Out: Hazard Communication Plan
  • Loss of limb or digit, or just cuts and lacerations. Working with power tools like angle grinders and electric metal shears can increase the risk of losing a limb or digit. Train employees to always follow proper equipment operating instructions, keep guards in place and wear proper protective gear when working with power tools.
    • Wearing Gloves – In addition to their work with caustic chemicals, mechanics also have to worry about exposure to hot engines and injuries from sharp equipment. Auto shop workers should always wear gloves to prevent chemical burns, chemical irritation, heat burns, cuts, and other types of injuries. These gloves should be left in the workplace at the end of each shift so that dangerous chemicals are not transferred from the garage to the home.
      • Codes of Safe Practices – Mechanics (PDF): This resource explains how to use personal protective equipment to prevent eye injuries, burns and other types of injuries.
      • Glove Selection Guidance: Imperial College London explains the benefits of wearing gloves in the workplace and offers advice for selecting the right gloves for various hazards.

Safely stow all tools when any job is complete, and conduct routine inspections to make sure tools are in safe operating condition.

Check Out: Hand and Power Tool Safety Plan
  • Slips, trips and falls.  Oil changes, transmission flushes and other routine vehicle maintenance procedures that involve slippery or greasy fluids can make the shop floor slick, increasing the risk of accidents. Make sure technicians wear close-toed, anti-skid footwear.
    • Floor Care – Oil changes, transmission fluid changes, and other vehicle maintenance procedures involve working with slippery fluids that can coat the garage floor and increase the risk of accidents. Mechanics should clean up spills immediately, as slick spots increase the risk for slip-and-fall injuries. Leaving chemicals on the floor also increases the risk of chemical inhalation, which can cause respiratory irritation and other problems. Auto shop workers should also take care in putting away auto parts and repair tools, as leaving them on the floor increases the risk that someone will trip and fall. Anyone who works in a garage should wear boots with non-slip soles. These boots will prevent slip-and-fall accidents and provide protection in the event that something falls on the feet.
      • Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls: The Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety explains how to avoid slip-and-fall accidents in the workplace.
      • Foot Safety: This resource explains how to select a safety boot for the workplace. The article discusses the use of steel-toed boots and other types of safety footwear.

Keep the floor clear and uncluttered and clean up spills as soon as they occur. Place cones or signage to warn workers of slick areas.

Check Out: EHS Center – Slip, Trip, and Fall Audit

By taking proactive steps to address potential workplace risks, auto shop owners can reduce the likelihood of an employee injury or illness and keep their businesses safer.

Training and Certification

Proper training is one of the best ways to prevent accidents and injuries in auto shops. Every shop should have a formal safety training program that every employee must complete. The safety program should include information on wearing personal protective equipment, identifying workplace safety hazards, reducing the risk of electrocution, working with hazardous chemicals, and procedures for reporting safety hazards to management. Employers should also encourage employee participation in workplace safety committees. Safety committee members should regularly inspect work areas and identify any potential hazards. Once identified, hazards should be removed or repaired immediately.

Certification is also another important part of keeping the workplace safe for everyone. Employers should consider offering employees increased pay if they successfully complete a relevant certification program. In addition to mechanic certification, auto shop workers can take certification courses in working with hazardous materials, using forklifts, and using heavy equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also offers a voluntary training course that teaches participants how to identify and fix workplace hazards.


Fact sheets on best practices

  • Profit Through Prevention
    This fact sheet is the first in a series highlighting the best environmental practices for automotive repair shops and fleet maintenance facilities. The step-by-step instructions can help you reduce waste, avoid regulatory problems, and save money.
  • Aqueous Parts Cleaning
    Using solvents creates unnecessary environmental, worker health, and fire liabilities for your shop. With this fact sheet, learn how to minimize costs and liabilities by switching from solvents to aqueous (water-based) solutions.
  • Case Studies In Aqueous Parts Cleaning
    Each of the shops featured in these case studies successfully switched from solvent to aqueous parts cleaning. These case studies prove that aqueous cleaners are capable of meeting or exceeding the many parts cleaning challenges encountered in a wide variety of automotive repair operations.
  • Aqueous Brake Washers
    Aqueous brake washers perform as effectively as traditional solvent washers, they are better for the environment, and they reduce hazardous waste management costs and liability.
  • Antifreeze Recycling
    Learn why it is important to recycle waste antifreeze and get started recycling your waste antifreeze.
  • Refillable Spray Bottles
    This fact sheet is designed to help automotive repair shop owners and fleet managers make informed decisions about implementing refillable spray bottles.
  • Floor Cleanup
    The methods and equipment presented in this fact sheet will help you reduce floor wash water volume and contamination.
  • Oil Water Separators (OWSs)
    This fact sheet discusses the basic operation of OWSs in handling vehicle and floor wash water, and techniques to improve OWS performance and reduce costs and liabilities.

Additional fact sheets for fleet maintenance

  • Reusable Oil Filters
    Reusable oil filters are an alternative to conventional oil filters and can last up to the life of a vehicle, eliminating the waste stream created by conventional disposable filters.
  • Oil Life Extension
    This fact sheet describes how a testing program can extend engine oil life and thus lower oil consumption, reduce used oil generation, and decrease operating costs with no risk to your vehicles.

Automotive repair and fleet maintenance pollution prevention case study


Auto repair shops must take safety seriously in order to stay in business. If they do not follow safety precautions when it comes to operating machinery or handling chemicals, it can lead to injuries, lost work time, and staff loss, as well as potential lawsuits or workers’ compensation claims. One important step in establishing a positive safety environment is to create a safety manual and train your employees on its policies.


To begin with, your shop’s safety manual should include instructions on what employees should do in case of a true emergency: a fire, an explosion, an earthquake, a flood, or a blizzard. It goes without saying that in addition to these instructions, employees should be regularly trained on what to do in case of emergency. All emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers, first aid kits, goggles, and gloves, must be provided and maintained. Employees should also be trained to observe OSHA standards such as keeping exits clear and ensuring that their work areas are always properly ventilated.

In addition to major emergencies, your manual should contain instructions for what to do for other lesser emergencies like accidents, cuts, burns, or chemical spills. Because auto repair shops must use sharp tools, power tools, and chemicals to repair cars, your employees should be trained on how to do their work in ways that would minimize risk of accident or injury. Adding incentive programs for maintaining an accident-free workplace or rewarding employees who model your safety program are inexpensive ways to emphasize your shop’s commitment to safety.


The following are policies that should be included in any auto repair shop safety manual:

Do not smoke in or around the repair bays or garages. The chemicals that are stored or are in use there are extremely flammable, and smoking is an unacceptable risk. If your company has a no smoking policy, this will, of course, be covered under that. Three or four decades ago, it might have been impossible to enforce this kind of policy, but smoking has been essentially pushed from most workplaces today.

Keep workspaces clean and organized. Put away tools when they are not in use.

Make sure all exits are clear and free of clutter.

Do not wear clothing that is loose, torn, or that could catch on equipment and endanger you. (A good dress code policy makes it easy for all employees to know what to wear.)

Wear protective gear. This includes, but may not be limited to goggles, gloves, and ear protection.

Keep safety equipment like fire extinguishers accessible and well maintained.

When working on a vehicle, remove the keys from the ignition switch. Also: disconnect the car’s battery when working on an electrical system or with wiring. A car with a key in the ignition switch can still draw current from the battery, so avoid unplugging fuses or working on wiring until you have made sure that no current can pass through the system and shock you or cause electrical damage to the vehicle.

Check the temperature of the car before working on the engine, manifold, exhaust system or the radiator as they can all cause burns when they are hot. Do not open the radiator until the car has had a chance to fully cool down.

Keep your hands, tools, and other objects away from the engine while it is running so that nothing gets caught on any moving part within.

Double check that any vehicle you are working on is fully supported before working underneath it.

Read the labels on any chemicals used in the auto shop. Workers should be aware of any hazardous chemicals used or stored in the auto shop. All chemicals should be clearly labeled and carefully stored according to the proper guidelines.

These are only the most obvious of safety tips. OSHA has extensive guidelines about all facets of safety for auto repair shops that managers must be aware of and follow to the letter or face fines or other action. An employee safety manual cannot contain all of that information, however. It’s too overwhelming. When creating your safety manual, it’s a good idea to seek input from your staff. They are on the frontlines of the work and may have good ideas about steps to take to avoid accidents. They also will have ideas about how to go about familiarizing themselves with the information. They will train the workers whose job it will be to maintain the safety culture you establish in your shop.

Does your auto repair shop have a safety manual? What further safety tips does it include?

Ignoring Workplace Safety

Most companies put up safety information but the workers don’t believe in it. They walk into the lunch room or locker room and see safety information plastered all over the walls. The workers seem to ignore these signs as they fail to put on their safety glasses, don’t use their work gloves and play with chemicals like they were washing their car.
The worst part about this is that many companies don’t seem to care much about safety either. As managers and labor relations representatives walk through the shop floor they conveniently ignore violations. Thus people come to understand that safety really isn’t that important because the company doesn’t believe that safety is important.

The cost of workplace injuries every year is around 45 billion dollars. This doesn’t include any cost associated with unreported injuries or those injuries that develop over a lifetime(i.e. carpal tunnel). With the high cost of injuries the total cost of workman’s compensation can rise. As this cost rises it means that the company is losing revenue unnecessarily.

As managers and labor relations representatives ignore these problems they may also be putting themselves into a situation where they can be sued. For example, let us say that the proper OSHA training is not given, none of the safety procedures are enforced and people who violate these procedures do not receive discipline. It will be perceived as though the organization is being negligent and forgetful.

How to Improve Workplace Safety:

1.) Postings: Make sure that postings and safety instructions are listed within your workplace. You will also want to include emergency procedures that any employee is empowered to use if there is a serious injury.

2.) Training: Train your employees on how to handle equipment properly, put them through a safety classes, and give them basic first aid training. By doing this you are showing that you, as the employer, are being proactive with any future safety problems.

Check Out: 10 Reasons Why Safety Training is Often Ineffective

3.) Documentation: Keep excellent OSHA documentation so that you have a list of injuries. Make sure that this documentation is up to date and has enough information to be useful for tracking high risk areas within the building.

4.) Enforce the Policy: Employers have a responsibility to enforce the procedures as much as they possibly can. That means not ignoring the problem or letting the problem linger. Each and every time you fail to write up a person for not wearing their safety glasses you are risking a lawsuit.

Process Safety Management Basics

Unexpected releases of toxic, reactive, or flammable liquids and gases in processes involving highly hazardous chemicals have been reported for many years. Incidents continue to occur in various industries that use highly hazardous chemicals which may be toxic, reactive, flammable, or explosive, or may exhibit a combination of these properties.

Regardless of the industry that uses these highly hazardous chemicals, there is a potential for an accidental release any time they are not properly controlled. This, in turn, creates the possibility of disaster.

Record Disasters

Several major disasters involving highly hazardous chemicals drew international attention to the potential for major catastrophes; the public record in the U.S. is replete with information concerning many other less notable releases of highly hazardous chemicals.

Hazardous chemical releases continue to pose a significant threat to employees and provide impetus, internationally and nationally, for authorities to develop or consider developing legislation and regulations to eliminate or minimize the potential for such events.


On July 17, 1990, the U.S. Dept. of Labor, OSHA issued the “Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals” (PSM) (29 CFR 1910.119), containing requirements for the management of hazards associated with processes using highly hazardous chemicals to help assure safe and healthful workplaces.

OSHA’s PSM standard emphasizes the management of hazards associated with highly hazardous chemicals and establishes a comprehensive management program that integrates technologies, procedures, and management practices.

The Clean Air Act Amendments and the PSM Standard

Shortly after the publication of OSHA’s proposed PSM standard, Congress enacted the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) which contained revisions to the Clean Air Act of 1990.

Section 304 of the CAAA requires that the Secretary of Labor, in coordination with the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), promulgate a PSM standard to prevent accidental releases of chemicals that could pose a threat to employees.

The CAAA also requires that the PSM standard include a list of highly hazardous chemicals which includes toxic, flammable, highly reactive, and explosive substances.

CAAA Requirements for the PSM Standard

The CAAA requires that the standard include a list of highly hazardous chemicals which includes toxic, flammable, highly reactive, and explosive substances. These requirements have become widely known as the “14 PSM Program Elements.

OSHA’s Final PSM Standard

The final PSM standard was promulgated in 1992 and requires the employer to incorporate each of the 14 key elements in a formal PSM program. The key provision of final PSM standard is process hazard analysis (PHA)—a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals. Employers must identify those processes that pose the greatest risks and begin evaluating those first.

PSM clarifies the responsibilities of employers and contractors involved in work that affects or takes place near hazardous processes to ensure that the safety of both plant and contractor employees is considered.

The standard also mandates written operating procedures; employee training; pre-startup safety reviews; evaluation of mechanical integrity of critical equipment; and written procedures for managing change. PSM specifies a permit system for hot work; investigation of incidents involving releases or near misses of covered chemicals; emergency, action plans; compliance audits at least every three years; and trade secret protection.

Benefits of an Effective PSM Program

Effective PSM helps ensure the proper development of plant systems and procedures to prevent unwanted releases which may ignite and cause toxic impacts, local fires, or explosions in plants and installations.

PSM can also improve:

  • the operability, productivity, stability, and quality of the outputs of hazardous chemical processes; and
  • the design and specification of safeguards against undesirable events.

Effective PSM results in tangible benefits such as reduced exposure to lawsuits, OSHA penalties, public liability claims, and hikes in workers compensation insurance premiums.

Other intangible benefits include higher morale, increased trust, and an improved corporate image – the community sees the company as a responsible corporate citizen.

The final PSM standard mainly applies to manufacturing industries – particularly, those pertaining to chemicals, transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products. Other affected sectors include natural gas liquids; farm product warehousing; electric, gas, and sanitary services; and wholesale trade. It also applies to pyrotechnics and explosives manufacturers covered under other OSHA rules and has special provisions for contractors working in covered facilities.

The various lines of defense incorporated into the design and operation of the PSM process should be evaluated and strengthened to make sure they are effective at each level. Process safety management is the proactive identification, evaluation and mitigation or prevention of chemical releases that could occur as a result of failures in processes, procedures, or equipment.

Check Out: Ignoring Workplace Safety

What is a “process?”

To understand PSM and its requirements, employers and employees need to understand how OSHA uses the term “process” in PSM.

  1. Any group of vessels which are interconnected, and
  2. Separate vessels which are located such that a highly hazardous chemical could be involved in a potential release

For purposes of this definition, any group of vessels that are interconnected, and separate vessels located in a way that could involve a highly hazardous chemical in a potential release, are considered a single process.

What industries does PSM focus on?

The process safety management standard targets highly hazardous chemicals that have the potential to cause a catastrophic incident.

OSHA’s standard applies mainly to manufacturing industries–particularly those pertaining to chemicals, transportation equipment, and fabricated metal products.

Other affected sectors include those involved with:

  • natural gas liquids
  • farm product warehousing
  • food processing
  • electric, gas, and sanitary services
  • wholesale trade
  • pyrotechnics and explosives manufacturers

It has special provisions for contractors working in covered facilities.

Who is Not Covered by the PSM Standard?

The PSM standard does not apply to the following:

  • retail facilities;
  • oil or gas well drilling or servicing operations;
  • normally unoccupied remote facilities;
  • hydrocarbon fuels used solely for workplace consumption as a fuel (e.g. propane used for comfort heating, gasoline for vehicle refueling), if such fuels are not a part of a process containing another highly hazardous chemical covered by this standard; and
  • flammable liquid stored in atmospheric tanks or transferred which are kept below their normal boiling point without benefit of chilling or refrigerating and are not connected to a process

To control these types of hazards, employers need to develop the necessary expertise, experience, judgment, and initiative within their work force to properly implement and maintain an effective process safety management program as envisioned in the OSHA PSM standard