The Importance of Compliance
The column’s theme, “best of the best,” was put in place in order to learn from each other, share challenges and successes to emulate one another and help others who want to be the best at what they do in this industry. Areas that I feel our company has always done a good job in and been an example of “the best of the best” is having great training, upholding standards, encouraging accountability, promoting a high energy culture and, last but certainly not least, being prepared for every area of compliance possible.
Throughout my 20 plus years in the industry (no need to add it all up!), I’ve only had three OSHA audits. The first one was what inspired me to get a Masters in HRD. I wanted to do this so I would be prepared for the next one—I never wanted fines. I was hit with a fine of over $40,000, so I wanted to be prepared moving forward. I never wanted to see fines like that again in my life. Getting my Masters showed me areas that could be improved to make sure I didn’t. My second OSHA fine was in one of my franchisees locations. That one, luckily, was less, but it was still a significant hit at roughly $30,000. In March, I was hit with my third. That one was less than $15,000.
The scary thing is, I feel like we have a good program! All staff is required to take over 10 hours of OSHA training where they are tested. We also have a monthly safety checklist put in place and much more to ensure that our shops are in compliance. Still, even with all of these precautions, we have holes in our system.
What terrifies me right now is all of the shop owners that have been hit with COVID-19. They’ve made it to the other side and are still struggling to make ends meet. They’ve just overcome such a difficult time for small business owners where many had to close their doors for good. The last thing they need is to be hit with an OSHA audit that could add up to thousands of dollars on top of what they’re already struggling with. When I asked other shop owners if they were doing internal OSHA forms, training classes, lift inspections or printing out the monthly OSHA inspection, these were some of the responses that I heard.
“I’ve never had an audit”
“I’m in a small town”
“There’s no way it will happen to me”
This is concerning. OSHA audits can happen to anyone. It’s happened to me in the smallest and largest of towns. It’s happened to me as an independent and a franchise. I’ve gone through three myself and had I not had the capital, it would have crippled me. A fine will cripple many shop owners, especially right now. It makes me sad to think that a shop owner can easily prevent this by doing research and putting a plan in place. The majority of fixes aren’t going to cost you a dime! Take the time to make the fixes now so you don’t pay for it down the road.
If you want to be the best of the best, this should be in every aspect of your business—including compliance. Your employees see what you do—and what you don’t do. If you ignore safety, cleanliness and training, it sets the tone for your staff. If you’re not bothered with safety, why should they be? If you are stringent and consistent, your employees will know what is expected of them. They may not love it, but they will respect you for it, especially when it helps avoid a crippling fine that could put you out of business and leave them without a job.
Getting started is simple. Go online and search consolidated automotive OSHA checklist, OSHA lift checklist and OSHA automotive shop training guides. If you need links, please let me know and I’ll be happy to send them over to you. It’s important we all help and lean on each other for support. No matter what, continue to be the best of the best for your team, community and our industry.