OSH Matters

Growing interest in Occupational Safety and Health

“A Conversation on Safety. At the Tyre Shop.” An OSH Story



Image 1: Informal Conversation, Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson DD: 17.10.2015

In Trinidad and Tobago we are often comfortable to wait on the “tyre repair man” to repair and or change your tyres. It is not really a ‘big deal’. It gives some of us some time to sit outdoors and engage in some ‘idle chit chat’, check our messages and emails, before we go on our merry way. On my last visit to a tyre shop in central Trinidad, I, had to do a tyre change of a flat tyre. I was asked to have a seat on a bench on the outside of my vehicle whilst the tyre repairman changed the tyre. While I waited, I took the opportunity to have an informal chat with two of the employees who were working outside.

One worker was noticeably clad in rubber slippers whilst he jacked up the vehicle. I looked at him and asked, “What about your personal protective equipment?”
“Wha is dat?” he replied.
“Safety equipment, steel toe boots, safety glasses, gloves?” I answered and smiled.
“Yea man we does get dat. We ha gloves an boots an everything.” The other responded, pointing at his feet that were sheathed in rubber gardening boots.
“Do you mind if I take some pictures of your equipment?” I asked.
“Go ahead nah.” was the response.
I took the photos, and then continued, “So, how often do you service your equipment?”
They both looked at each other.
“Three months”…
“Every year!”…
They both smiled. “You know nah, buh nobody does ever get damage here!” the first one exclaimed.

It was quite evident here that the workers at this shop were aware of wearing proper personal, protective equipment to prevent any physical hazards from happening. However, the behavioral attitudes of the employees, show that many unsafe workplace practices are still commonplace in our society.

Do you know that a moment of negligence can lead to us being damaged
or even lead to our death?

Take a moment to view this short video on risk assessment at a truck tyre shop by Michelin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxrruyGpMAA accessed18.10.2015

Physical hazards made simple

My group and I looked at this tyre shop, looking for evidence of awareness of OSH practices… or breaches. We found that most physical hazards present are mainly there because workers ‘simply’ created them. As seen in the photos below, working tools, unsecured and tangled hoses and even a tyre in the walkway presented many physical hazards.

20151019_110619_resizedAir tool and jack

Images 2 and 3: DD:Physical/ Mechanical Hazards, Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 17.10.2015

At this small establishment, equipment seemed to be lying everywhere. This negligence could be the cause of slips, trips, bumps and falls. Equipment was not put away leading to cluttered conditions in work/ shop floor area. Debris and moisture/ wet spots were also visible. Employees as well as members of the public could be injured by the sharp edges of cutting tools. Although a jack is used, the equipment seemed to be very poorly maintained and there was evidence of rust, we questioned its reliability and safety. Equipment such as these are likely to subject the user to crush and pinch injuries should they fail. Workers need to be correctly trained how to protect hands and arms, when placing the tyres on the mold.

Mechanical hazards identified

According to Texas State University, mechanical hazards refer to moving machinery that can cause injury or death. At this tyre shop there were many machines with movable parts making the potential for death, dismemberment or disfigurement very high. Especially if they are altered or are poorly maintained. We found instances where safety cages were removed from their machines (See image 4) . In one instance, there was a rotating wheel that inserts into a metal ring into truck tyres under pressure there no safety guards in place. If the machine is started and the ring is improperly inserted the ring could become disengaged from the tyre and because of the force exerted on the ring and tyre. This in turn can hit an employee or members of the public that are seated on the bench or standing nearby causing serious damage even death. It was also noted that jacks and other lifting equipment were poorly maintained. There were large accumulations of oil, grease and dust on them that could cause these equipment to malfunction causing crush damage or dismemberment .


Image 4: Machine that has had its guard/cage removed & Image 5:Crush point hazard Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 17.10.2015


Image 6 Car Body Lift, Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 17.10.2015

Chemical hazards / Respiratory Effects

Most tyre shops are not just for selling tires. It is usually a place for other services – Tyre Inflation Systems Lubrication & Oil Service Equipment, Tire Balancing etc. From a chemical point of view, there are a lot of hazards we were aware of.

‘Toxic substances’ defined in OSH Act, would refer to any substance known to be poisonous, corrosive, irritating, sensitizing or harmful to man (Shortened version). The repairing of tyres involves subjecting them to chemical mixtures, heat, pressure, and catalytic actions for a variety of processes. In this type of environment, workers and the public may become contaminated by dusts, gases, vapors, fumes, and chemical by products, the most common chemical hazards being; oils, kerosene and cleaners. Persons are exposed to these hazards through inhalation and skin absorption during repairs.

Tyre Lubricants give engineering oil various properties that are specifically formulated to provide easier movement to the tire mold and to promote airflow. They are constantly used for checking leaks or breaks within car tyres. Adhesives and solvent blends contain chlorinated solvents that are used in common items like de-greasers, cleaning solutions, and a host of other mixing and thinning solutions for cleaning or polishing. Kerosene is another chemical that is used for cleaning tyres. These chemicals used often end up on the workmen clothes, hands and onto their skin, even despite the wearing of gloves.


Image 7: Chemical oils, Source: Digital Image. Available from Worker Health Protection Programme .Chlorinated Solvents. Accessed16.10.201518.10.2015

Persons without masks… (That includes you), breathe in these fumes while waiting your tyres to be repaired. This may breach subsection 32 in OSHA regarding respiratory protection to be provided where necessary. Exposure to these toxins cause a person to show signs of dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and/or skin rashes. Longer-term exposure can cause chronic skin problems, damage to the nervous system, kidneys, or liver problems or cause cancer.

Evaluation of Biological Exposures

Biological concerns 2

Image 8: Unsanitary conditions, Source: Sherry Ann Applewhite 18.10.2015

Improper storage of discarded tyres can cause various health risks to humans. In a tropical country such as ours the weather changes from sunny to rainy quickly causing water to settle in discarded tyres creating a breeding place for mosquitoes. These can cause the spread of dreadful and even fatal diseases such as Dengue fever, Malaria and Chickungunya. Unsanitary working environment can also be a haven for rodents. Exposure to rat droppings, urine and even a single rat hair can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing and skin irritations.
With reference to section 6 of the Act it is the duty of the employer to ensure that the work place is safe and without risks to health and to protect the safety and of the public in the vicinity of the industrial establishment. Section 31, elaborates that the industrial establishment should be kept clean and ensure that the floors and drains are maintained to prevent insects from breeding, rats, mice or other vermin.

Assessment of body control measures: Ergonomic hazards

bending ergonomic jpgstooping ergonomic jpg

Images 9 and 10: Bending / stooping for long periods,Source: Lee Ann Lee Chee Wilson 18.10.2015

Changing a tyre can sometimes be a very exhausting experience for a human body especially if that tyre is for a huge truck. Excessive and continuous lifting of heavy tyres can cause a medical condition known as hernia. Bending in awkward positions for tyre replacement can cause serious back injuries resulting in risk of ergonomic damage to the worker. For OSH practices, current health and safety programs should be evaluated to determine whether they are adequately addressing the need for injury reduction.

You Report: OSH Evaluation


Image 10: Checklist 18.10.2015.Digital Image Accessed from: Tyre Safety Website http://www.nhtsa.gov.Accessed16.10.2015

Do you know your tyre checklist?

Click on the link below


On cursory observation these small tyre shops appear to be somewhat aware of OSHA as evidenced by their signs that clearly state the words “hazards” and “risk.” We however do not believe they are nor fully informed of the extent to which these apply to their everyday work environment.When looking around at the physical environment areas that require attention in all areas of health and safety in the areas of physical,chemical, biological hazards are evident. On closer examination it revealed that it was not that they are not concerned about maintaining a safe and healthy working environment, but it was just that this is the way it has always been done.
As such, we decided to give them a few pointers that would aid them in bringing their shops up to OSHA standards.As such we recommend that the following preventive measures be implemented within the shortest time frame as possible if not immediately;

• Wearing safety shoes with non-skid soles and appropriate eye protection
• Installing effective exhaust ventilation and air conditioning to prevent air contamination and heat stress
• Using MSDS sheets for chemical treatments and visually displaying it on the compound.
• Protecting hands with chemical-resistant gloves
• Covering tires stored outdoor, to prevent the formation of puddles of water or
• Learning and use safe lifting and moving techniques for heavy or awkward loads/ use mechanical aids to assist in lifting.
Many tire shops are small in size scale and cannot operate like one of the more modern ones. For them, it is just a business, they are more concerned about making the money.


So next time before you engage in some ‘idle chit chat’, check your messages and emails, it is truly a very ‘big deal’ to know what simple establishments and persons are still not adhering to OSH practices. The inspection of this facility highlighted the occupational exposures that were most frequently found in these establishments and helped indicate whether any of these places exceeded OSHA standards when interacting with the general public. Through this evaluation, we may be able to help one person become more aware of these OSH dangers.

That one person is you.


AMCA . Mosquito-Borne Diseases.
Accessed16.10.2015. Website http://www.mosquito.org/mosquito-borne-diseases
Checklist. Summer tyre safety. Accessed16.10.2015.Website http://www.pullingcurls.com/2015/07/summer-tire-safety-checklist.html

Checklist . Tyre safety Accessed16.10.2015.Website http://www.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle+Safety/Tires/Tire+Safety+Everything+Rides+on+it+(checklist).

Historic UK. Robert William Thomson. Accessed16.10.2015. Website http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/Robert-William-Thomson/ .

Mechanical Hazards. Business Finance. Accessed16.10.2015.Website http://www.ask.com/business-finance/definition-mechanical-hazards-2d08e85395403e0 .

Orkin. Ratsborn diseases. Accessed16.10.2015.
Website http://www.orkin.com/rodents/rats/rat-borne-diseases/

Occupational Health and Safety Act, Act of 2004, Amended by 3 of 2006.

Tire Safety Video.mov Accessed16.10.2015.
Website https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKlJJqHFfoQ

Safety .Workplace hazards. Accessed16.10.2015
Website http://www.takeonestep.org/Pages/yoursafety/safenotsorry/workplacehazards.aspx

Worker Health Protection Programme .Chlorinated Solvents. Accessed16.10.2015.Website http://www.worker-health.org/chlorinatedsolvents.html


4 thoughts on ““A Conversation on Safety. At the Tyre Shop.” An OSH Story

  1. Nicely done article. It just goes to show how many people actually stop and consider their safety. There also need to be “real” OSHA monitoring even in small businesses by the proper authority.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is obvious that safety is becoming a way of life for your group. The insights you have shared, not just with readers, but also with the tyre shop workers, will definitely make a positive difference in our society. The media clips are also very enlightening. Thank you for making such an effort to shine a light on an area where we can all benefit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. After reading this post, I can really identify with the authors experience, as it has been an identical observation of mine with regard to the practices that occur at a tire shop as we in Trinidad will refer to this kind of establishment. The nonchalant approach to safety because of the attitude that “this is how it is done and nothing does happen” is part of the culture of many of our industrialized consumer services that are usually setup under the house of the owner or at some place where it is evident it is a business run by the owner and some employees, usually at a place where home is also on the premise, or not very far away. The term “mom and pop” business comes to mind. This kind of business is the mainstay of many families throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Compliance with occupational health and safety guidelines and regulations is required, and is not discriminative on business size or type, once applicable. The economic reality is that the employees subjecting themselves to the exposed hazards may not be educated enough about the potential threat, and the business owner may also not be educated about the threat, the impact, the risks and potential issues that can arise from an accident because cost to the business and by extension him, may be of concern. I have stepped away from the closeup view of my tire being exploded on to the rim as the operator seemed to obtain pleasure from this explosion occurring in front of him with little or no protection from the tyre actually rupturing. I suppose this may be a rare occurrence, however it caused me to stand back. The use of the pictures really highlighted the necessity for vivid imagery when engagement of the reader is solicited. I was interested and wanted to read more into how the author turned a simple task of having a tire replaced into an essay of words on all of the occupational hazards that existed that we all may have had the opportunity to be a part of in the past. Images of toes, fingers, hands, and eyes being lost due to negligent practices remained pictured in my mind as I read on. I particularly enjoy articles on topics that I can really relate to, and this is such the case with this post. I can’t stress the comparison of the local images with those depicted in the video where we see the use of Personal Protective Equipment being used, as opposed to it being casually respected in the local tire shop. My concern though is a question. If these scenes are so prevalent and normal, why is it allowed to continue when there is an actual body that has published guidelines and regulations to follow to which penalty can be levied for non compliance. Is it that their compliance officers do not see the same things we of the casual public do?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article! As a tire installer myself, it’s the inhaling harmful chemicals that scare me the most. Blowing your nose after work every day and seeing nothing but black boogers is a bit concerning


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