Magazine

Donít Beat the Feet!

Garage Safety

By Kathy Phillips

The feet are the workhorses of the body. They carry us from place to place, support our entire weight while we stand, and take a pounding when walking or running on hard surfaces. Yet few people appreciate the simple yet intricate, sturdy but fragile human foot.

Consequently, we don’t pay attention to our feet, and that’s when injuries occur. Working in a parking garage poses extra hazards, because a 2- or 3-ton vehicle will always win in a close encounter with an employee’s foot. Here are some common sense rules to help keep your workers on their toes:

If you must approach a vehicle to speak to the driver through the window, stand with your body and your feet parallel to the vehicle. Facing the driver directly places your feet under the car and in danger of being crushed if it rolls forward or backward.

Always step back several paces from a stopped vehicle before you give the driver the “go ahead” to move. This places you out of harm’s way.

Some vehicles – such as “stepside/dually” pickup trucks – have a wider track in the rear than in the front, so the front tires could clear your feet while the back tires run over them. Maintain at least an arm’s length of space between you and any moving vehicle.



Don’t Beat the Feet!



If you carry a clipboard or other equipment, don’t let it block your view of your feet. You should be able to see them at all times to ensure that they stay out of danger.



If you must exit a kiosk to help a customer, always politely ask them to put their vehicle in park before you step out. This will help prevent unintentional roll-back or creep-forward if the driver’s foot eases from the brake.



Don’t ever put your hands or feet in the vicinity of a vehicle’s wheels unless the engine is off and the transmission set in park. Please see examples below:



Example 1: If you must pick up dropped change, it’s best to get new change from the register, give it to the customer, and have them pull away. Then you can safely pick up the dropped change and return it to the drawer.

Example 2: In the case of a dropped parking ticket, and considering the fact that issuing a new ticket isn’t a possibility, be sure to make the driver aware that you will be exiting the kiosk (or any other location), and to please be cautious of you. Or better yet, ask the driver to put the vehicle in park. Keep your eye on the car at all times, and then carefully exit and return to your area.

Electric cars and hybrids are presenting new dangers in parking garages, because they frequently run silent at low speeds. You can’t just trust your hearing!

Be aware of your surroundings whenever on foot in a garage, and look both ways before stepping into drive and exit lanes. Do not use ear buds or distract yourself with phone conversations or texting. Pay attention!

Never assume a driver sees you, and don’t make any sudden moves when a vehicle is approaching. Make sure that you have acknowledged eye contact with the driver and that they have their vehicle under control before you approach. A startled driver can accidently hit the accelerator instead of the brake with potentially crushing damage to your feet.

Make smart footwear choices. Wear non-skid shoes to ensure that your feet don’t slip into the danger zone and make sure shoelaces are short and tied tight so they don’t become a tripping hazard.

By sharing these tips with your employees, you reduce the risk of employee injury, while also helping to ensure the safety and well-being of your staff.



Kathy Phillips, CIC, CPP, is Senior Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services. She can be contacted at

kphillips@alliant.com.

Article Abstract from May, 2013




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