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May/June 2003


thoughts from the shop

Safety in the Shop
by David A. Casey

All in all, it seems that windshield repair is a pretty safe job in itself. One of the biggest hazards we probably face as repairers, though, is the traffic we find ourselves in each day on our routes. But there are some long-term factors of the job that should be addressed daily to ensure a safe career, safety for those around you and a pain-free retirement.

The first rule of safety is to know the rules. Ask all of your suppliers for Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) on every product that you buy from them. Learn the first aid, the disposal procedures and the effects of every product on your body. Keep the MSDSs in your vehicle during your workday and keep a copy at your office for emergency reference.

On the Job
All SuperGlass windshield repair technicians are trained to use a 5-foot ladder when working on large trucks, busses and 18-wheelers. The stability offered by strapping your equipment to the ladder and moving it from job to job canít be duplicated by balancing on steps and hanging on to rear view mirrors. If you climb on enough trucks without a ladder and without using safety procedures, you will eventually injure yourself or the truck you are repairing. Neither is good for business. When you use your body to earn your money, you need to protect it as you would any of your equipment and take the time and steps to ensure longevity in your career.

Wearing safety glasses when drilling into glass or examining the repair while it is under pressure is another small step you should take to protect your business and your personal safety. After all, to be a great repairer requires eyesight. Companies such as Smith & Wesson and Harley Davidson make stylish safety glasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays and repair and glass debris. You donít have to look like Kareem Abdul Jabbar anymore to protect your eyes.

Depending on the resins you use, gloves can be a protection for you and others with whom you come in contact. Gloves made of Nitrile have shown that they will protect your skin from acrylic acids while still offering enough sensitivity to get the job done. Handling cleaning solvents, such as acetone or denatured alcohol, can also contaminate your hands, so gloves should be worn when working with cleaning solvents or carcinogenic materials.

With most of our jobs taking place outdoors, ventilation isnít usually a problem for repairers. But, while working in a garage or enclosed area, extra care should be taken to protect your body from contamination. I remember what a chemist told me many years ago, ďIf you smell it, it is in your body.Ē Small amounts of exposure over a long period of time can add up to problems later in life.

Studies show that cell phones are distracting even when you use an earphone adapter. Do yourself and your fellow motorists a favor and try to pull over when having a lengthy cell phone conversation. By the way, donít even think about writing something down while driving and talking.

The disposal of resins should be completed after they are hardened and are no longer in a liquid form. Cure any excess resins before disposing of them.

Acetone, denatured alcohol and other cleaning solvents should never be poured into the ground. Otherwise, they will eventually find their way into your drinking water, and thatís not safe for any of us. Save your solvents in flameproof containers and call the waste disposal company who will dispose of it properly. Occasionally, you will see your local fire department promote the disposal of old paints, turpentine, etc. Thatís a good time to clear out your stored cleaning solvents and chemicals.

Practice your safety procedures diligently and youíll avoid a ton of crisis in the future. Teach your employees and family members the same for their own protection and they will help you keep your home and workplace a safe environment for everyone around you. 

David A. Casey is president of SuperGlass Windshield Repair Inc. in Orlando, Fla.


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