As the month of November rolls on and the pain of lockdown is still so fresh in many practitioners’ minds, I still wonder where the year has gone; once again it has been somewhat of a blur and in this issue let’s examine how times are changing.
The first thing that jumps to mind is an October without Bathurst. I know it has a prominent position at the end of the series (first weekend of December), but it just doesn’t seem right to have an October without the normal pilgrimage to Mount Panorama.
We all recognize that some states have dodged a bullet with regards to COVID-19 however; I take my hat off to the auto industry in Victoria that has really been adversely affected in more ways than one. As some of the LGA’s are opening their doors and shops and businesses are returning, the traffic flow will mean that break downs, servicing and car accidents will again bring business back to the auto industry however, communication is still the name of the game when it comes to customers and COVID. We need to be more diligent than ever in how we receive a car, treat the car and hand the car back to our consumers. There have been many shops that are having the argument where half the staff are more than willing and achieved two jabs and some staff members don’t want it at all. The jury is still out at who is right (under civil liberties).
Over the period of COVID and now as we start to ramp business up, consumers will be more engaged in understanding how you will protect them and the first thing they will do is look at your website. The number of businesses that have not posted anything on their website – whilst others have done a remarkable job in advertising the lengths they go to look after their customers safety is alarming. If you are about your customer and you’re taking lengths to sanitize the car, why not tell them? Customers, for years, have been terrible at guessing, it’s time we inform people and demonstrate to them that we are doing the right thing.
The issue of compliance doesn’t always have to sit around COVID. I see figures from New South Wales through to Western Australia on businesses that are compliant with signage, licensing, WH&S, employee rights and consumer protection issues and when I am given these figures, I again are alarmed at how low our industry compliance really is. When you take on the obligation of a business, you take on the obligation to be compliant to the state rules and regulations and not just make it up as you go along. As times are changing more emphasis will be placed on compliance adherence than education.
A new trend in businesses that you will see popping up in your local supercenters is a hearing test by an audiology company. One of the biggest items that we miss when the new employee is brought on is that of a hearing test. A lot of businesses today now ask new employees to undergo a health and fitness check prior to employment but this is mainly around locating previous manual handling injuries, hearing is so commonly missed. As a part of natural aging, our hearing automatically diminishes and these companies sometimes state the obvious, that a person’s hearing has naturally deteriorated but, without a baseline evidence of a hearing test, when that employee is engaged, we have no idea as to whether his current employer has adversely affected their hearing loss. In so many cases, you now have a WorkCover claim against your business. Please ensure that all new employees, as a part of their medical, have a baseline hearing examination.
To this, I would like to point out to members of the IAME, we can assist you with either a baseline medical or products that won’t add to the noise level. Firstly, we have Executive Medicine that has associates throughout Australia to conduct the most thorough pre-medical on any employee. I personally have done their test and was shocked by what they found. It changed my life. The next is a member of ours, Milwaukee Tools, that have a range of hi-torque electric tools which fit any buy-quiet policy. It is one thing to have the baseline test, but our true obligation is to ensure the workplace sits under your state’s legal decibel level. The best way to do this is to look at electric tools and after using the Milwaukee brand, as they are a member of your IAME, I can vouch for their noise compliance.
Further to our theme of ‘time are changing’, our current Skills Service Organisation (SSO) that looks after automotive, has reached the end of its contract and is currently sitting in extended role until a new form of skill council or skills cluster may be developed. Skills for Australia (PwC) has worked with industry over quite a few years but, as with other SSO’s, they are more or less in a caretaking role for periods between June 2022 and December 2022. As I know more about the new arrangements, I will keep you inform because our industry is rapidly changing.
In each issue, I write about the influx of EV and Hybrid and you have all now seen on TV the spate of ads informing you that your next vehicle will be somewhat electrified. Volvo makes it very clear in their ads. We as an industry need to be thinking long and hard about what infrastructure we may require for the safety and wellbeing of our staff and consumers. As the Chairperson of the Technical Committee of Australian Standards RS&R Sector of Electric Vehicles, the items being discussed are enormous and in so many cases new infrastructure for the common mechanic will need to change. For example, one manufacturer has the need to change hoists as if the lifting points are on the sill or the floor, this may close the air gap between the floor and the battery, this will be detrimental to the battery cooling and a premature failure may occur. More alarmingly, when a reasonable resized lithium battery catches fire, they just cannot be extinguished with either foam or water. In Germany there have been sizable batteries catch fire after an accident and they were placed in a steel coffin filled with water. They remained there for over two months. When they were then taken out, to the surprise of all, they reignited. This further indicates how times are changing. We have never had these types of problems before.
On a good note, the speed and efficiency of Recognition of Prior Learning has again returned to the Air Conditioning sector whereby the IAME has now made a compliant program in acknowledgement of your prior experience. For more information, please contact: [email protected] to receive an application pack.