Although many of us drive or work around vehicles every day, they can be very dangerous. Often, we become complacent with the tools we use the most. Unfortunately, letting your guard down during simple tasks like jump-starting a vehicle can have serious consequences.
Routine work takes an unexpected turn
Last year, an employee was helping coworkers jump-start a car. They attached the jumper cables and the employee’s coworker turned the key in the ignition. When the vehicle started, it lurched forward, knocking him over. The car ran over him and dragged him several feet.
The employee sustained life-threatening injuries including a severe brain injury, respiratory failure, and fractures to the ribs, pelvis and face. While he was in the ICU, his doctors and family began to discuss discontinuing treatment due to the severity of his brain injury.
However, he showed unexpected signs of awareness, and they began the long road to rehabilitation. After 10 months of specialized rehabilitation, the employee has regained the abilities to walk and speak. However, he will require special care for the rest of his life because of the brain injury.
In a split second, this person’s life was changed forever – and his family’s lives. The incident also resulted in a multi-million-dollar work comp claim that will likely have a significant impact on his employer’s e-mod. For a small business, a severe claim like this can be enough to close its doors permanently.
Safely jump-starting a vehicle
It might sound cynical, but the safest employees are those who note how routine tasks could go wrong, use a defensive driving approach, and plan for the worst. Taking precautions to improve safety might seem unnecessary, but a few extra minutes is worth the reduced risk. For example, in our Vehicle Backing Safety poster, we suggest drivers always get out and look behind a vehicle before backing up. This safeguard takes about 60 seconds and can prevent serious damage from backing into an object – or worse, a person.
When jump-starting a vehicle, there are several safety precautions you should take:
- Read the vehicle’s manual first. There might be extra steps you need to take for a successful jump.
- Take extra care once one end of the cables is attached to the live battery.
- Keep personal protective equipment, like gloves and protective glasses, in your vehicle and use them any time you’re performing maintenance or jump-starting the vehicle.
- All people not in a vehicle should move to a visible area at a safe distance beside the cars. No one should be standing in front, behind or right beside a vehicle.
- Before a jump-start, put automatic transmission vehicles in park and manual vehicles in neutral. Always engage the parking brake to avoid unexpected movement.
For more detail, Meineke provides a step-by-step guide to jump-starting with safety measures.
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