Government working with industry resulted in a safety benefit
Years ago, I spoke at a conference and made some remarks regarding the outdated rim matching and mount/demount wall charts for truck and bus tires from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). From the stage, I never really know who is in the audience, so I wasn't completely surprised when someone from the agency contacted me a couple of weeks later to discuss my criticism. After a few minutes on the phone, it became obvious that my issues should be communicated to a wider group of OSHA officials so a meeting was scheduled. At the meeting, it took me less than an hour to convince those in attendance that the industry needed new charts.
Like most government agencies, resources are limited within the Dept. of Labor for these types of special projects. Since OSHA did not have the budget to start from scratch, we agreed to put together a team of experts from tire, wheel and tool manufacturers to develop and submit the drafts that could serve as the basis for the new charts. Under the umbrella of the Tire Industry Assn. and the Rubber Manufacturers Assn., the industry set out to update the information. In the process, the two-chart set was expanded into three charts to allow the demounting and mounting information for multi-piece and single-piece rims to be listed separately. After a lengthy period of development and review, OSHA released the new charts on Nov. 30, 2011.
It's been decades since OSHA and the tire industry have worked together for the common good of the general worker, yet this is exactly how the system is supposed to work. The industry expressed concern over the dated information, the government listened, and then they acted on those issues with industry input. Both sides worked together to update the content for the good of the workers. After all, the top priority of everyone involved throughout the project was to improve employee safety.
For example, in the old mount/demount chart, there was no mention of circumferential zipper ruptures in steel cord radial truck tires. If technicians do not know what to look for, they can suffer serious or fatal injuries after they are struck by the blast of air or the assembly. The new tubeless tire wall chart includes a picture of the bulges in the sidewall and includes the industry-recommended practice for inspecting and inflating tubeless radial truck tires to help protect technicians from injury.
It's always been said that you should “police yourself before the government decides to police you.” Fleets that perform any aspect of truck tire service likely fall under OSHA 29 CFR 1910.177, so these new OSHA charts must be available in the area where tires are serviced. Fortunately, OSHA took our advice and converted the traditional wall charts into an easily printable booklet, which contains the exact information and provides the same level of compliance as the posters hanging on the wall. In fact, OSHA declined to print the posters and has chosen instead to distribute the electronic versions of the wall charts and the booklet on their website so those in the industry can print whatever works best for them.
Truck tire and wheel service is inherently dangerous, which means proper training is the first step toward reducing the chances of an accident. The new OSHA charts do a great job of identifying the most common risks and outlining the procedures that are necessary to minimize them. But if they never get to the technicians out in the shop, the lives that could be saved will still be at risk. So don't delay. Just go to www.tireindustry.org/cts.asp to get your free copy of the new OSHA charts.
Kevin Rohlwing can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org