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PARKING HEALTH SAFETY

Teaching Your Employees Safety

By Kathy Phillips

Donít assume your employees will know what to do in the event of an emergency or how to handle a dangerous situation. Parking operators and valets should be aware of what precautions to take and how to react to unsafe circumstances.
Education and training programs are required by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and by necessary elements for employers interested in controlling workerís compensation costs and third-party liability claims.
As with all safety management systems, training and communication programs should be integrated within your organizationís management structure Ė with the goal of becoming part of your organizationís culture Ė to ensure that programs are effective and generate a positive return on invested resources.
The following eight steps are helpful training tips and guidelines to improve safety and security processes:
1. Ensure that cashiers and attendants handling cash are competent in security systems such as proper use of drop boxes and other practices necessary so as not to draw attention to themselves when handling money.
2. Have rigid policies and instruct employees on how to properly react to and handle an attempted robbery or theft. Employees should never put themselves in a position that would compromise their personal safety or threaten their life.
3. All parking attendants should understand the basics of surveillance systems to include placement of cameras and instructions on how the alarm system works and sounds. (For example, if the alarm system uses silent alarms, attendants must be aware of all the attributes of the system, just as if the alarm operated using lights or bells.)
4. Instruct personnel on the proper methods of handling loiterers, which may include using radios to notify local security and/or police. Employees should understand that they are not to interact with loiterers in a policing fashion and should communicate suspicious acts via provided communication systems.
5. Provide security escorts for employees to their vehicles or other public transportation at the close of shifts during non-daylight hours.
6. Require attendants to wear orange or yellow vests when they have traffic exposures that create risks. Attendants are vulnerable when opening and closing a lane/gate, walking between lanes and picking up dropped tickets.
7. Large vehicles may pose additional safety risks. Instruct staff to watch for SUV and truck mirrors that could strike buildings, other vehicles, customers and/or staff when operating in tight places.
8. Even office workers come into contact with chemicals and other potentially harmful substances. Provide hazard communication training annually and when newly introduced or substituted materials are communicated before staff uses them.

Parking Valets and Theft
Take preventive measures to protect your customers Ö and your business
You most likely have at least heard of a valet service having a vehicle stolen. How can you prevent it from happening to you?
The best way to avoid a theft is by following specific preventive measures. The following suggestions will help you develop a preventive process:
1. Before hiring, perform background checks on your potential employees. Take the precautionary steps to ensure that they are clear of any criminal background, and when possible, get references. Although background checks are only one step in the screening process, they can provide important information on whom not to hire.
2. Even non-registered criminals, when presented with an opportunity, can find it difficult to resist the temptation of an expensive vehicle, particularly with many people struggling financially. Therefore, instruct your employees to follow a careful ticket procedure. Consider the valet ticket is the same as a car key.
For example, what happens if your customer loses a valet ticket inside the restaurant? Can someone else take it to the attendant, get into a vehicle and drive away? Unfortunately, in many cases, yes. Often, all that is needed to claim the vehicle is the valet ticket.
This is a major flaw in the ticket procedure. Even in the fast-paced hurried environment of a valet service, train your employees to obtain the customerís name and write it on the ticket kept at the valet location.
Obtaining the driverís identity at the drop off, and validating it upon return, is as simple as jotting the customerís last name on the back of the ticket and asking the driverís name before handing over the keys.
3. Consider added theft prevention by recommending to your customers that all remote controls, keys and items containing personal information be either removed or secured within the vehicle. There have been reported cases of robbery where the means of entrance was a combination of a home address on a letter and a garage door opener. These items, although normal to have in a vehicle, might prove a big problem for you down the road.
How about prominently posting a sign at the valet station suggesting to customers that personal items, such as mail, extra keys, garage openers, etc., be locked or secured before they hand over the vehicle to the valet.
Kathy Phillips, CIC, CPP, is First Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services. She can be reached at kphillips@alliantinsurance.com.

Article Abstract from March, 2011




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