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Parking Safety: Caring for People and Excellent Customer Service

June 18, 2019

Glenn Schnitzer

Today more than ever, parking programs should make SAFETY a PRIORITY. Employee injuries, worker’s compensation, and lawsuits are all very expensive; especially, if you lose due to gross negligence. However, it’s not only about protection of assets, it’s about caring for people and excellent customer service.


In order to develop a robust safety culture, here are a few points for consideration to add to your parking program.


Safety Communications – Have a safety moment every day. Valet drivers will benefit from safety shares of best practices. Safety signs, like Drive Slow or 5MPH, are great message reminders in all parking facilities. Porters can learn about potential hazards and avoid getting hurt. Cashiers and Office personnel can stay healthier with some common-sense reminders, like keeping good hygiene during cold and flu season or avoiding tripping accidents by removing power cords from pathways. You may even wish to build a safety ambassador’s team that can meet on a monthly basis. Having full safety engagement from the root will create more interest, as well as adding validity to your program. Once the safety program proves it has value, you might consider issuing a safety newsletter, once a quarter or annually, to recognize the top performers and improvement successes.


It’s not only about having enough supplies on hand for advance preparation, but also how ready are your parking operations and personnel for the first responders?


Emergency Preparation – Security and property managers are always in tune with preparations for managing emergencies, but what is your safety status for the parking operations? Does your operation have both cold and hot weather plans? Obviously, freezing temperatures create slippery icy conditions, while summers can bring on flooding or even hurricane conditions. It’s not only about having enough supplies on hand for advance preparation, but also how ready are your parking operations and personnel for the first responders? Do you have photos of the equipment, signs, etc.? Have you completed fire drills (not just with your hotel, hospital, or office buildings)? Do you have emergency-type table-top exercises for your personnel and parking facilities? In extreme conditions, you’ll have to identify ride-out teams. It’s also wise to have an updated telephone listing of all your current employees, your customer point of contacts, and vendors. So, how ready are you?


Safety Metrics – What safety measurements are important to you, your organization, your customers? Talk with your risk manager to see where they desire improvement. You can define reasonable and challenging goals. The thing is that these safety goals must be set and tracked regularly, for all managers in the area, for it to be taken seriously.


Developing a New Safety Culture – If you’re beginning from scratch, it’s like any other new initiative. You need to find that one person who can/will commit to making your program a true success. The nice thing is that the individual does NOT require experience or any special certification. There are plenty of materials available on the internet and quick webinars to attend for faster tracking. Once you’ve identified your Safety Leader, you then begin by taking baby steps. Start by thinking and talking safety. Begin every conference call or in-person meetings with a safety moment. This could be as simple as “Don’t drive or walk while talking on your cell phone.” 


Distractions or lack of focus may lead to undesired outcomes: near misses or accidents. You could then ask for volunteers to complete safety observations on work behaviors or your job area assignments. During observations, you try to learn where the risks are at your locations. 


Funny thing is most of us will only look down or straight ahead, but if you’re going to do a thorough job, train yourself to also look up. Low hanging clearance bars, sharp corners on signs, open conduit, exposed wires, loose spalling from ceilings, unsecured handrails /treadplates on stairways, etc. have been noticed during these JSAs (Job Survey Assessments); and later corrected prior to having a safety incident. 


Installing speed bumps to slow down vehicular traffic and adding mirrors positioned on blinds corners will help, too. Now that your safety program is well under way, you’ll want to develop some metrics, so you can make comparisons and prove the worth of your program. This will require research on such things as the number of accidents or dollars spent on prior years worker’s compensation. 


In valet jobs, it’s easy to measure the number of paid claims, their frequency, or the total amount paid out each month or annually. Most risk managers know all too well how company insurance premiums go up each year based on poor results. Some states worker’s compensation modifiers are based on a three-year history. And thus, the good news is that decreasing injuries will decrease average modifiers, resulting in lower worker’s compensation rates. 


The number and value of your General Liability or Garage Keepers Legal Liability claims (often referred to GL or GKLL) will also impact insurance costs. This is not legal advice, but if you have an active Safety Program, the likeliness of incidents will be lower and if/when there are personal injury/losses, the settlements will also be smaller.


The above safety points have all proven to be successful in building a strong safety culture. For some, it will all be about saving the organization from losses. Truthfully though, you should develop a safety program to protect your employees and to improve customer service. Safety is an important value for any organization.


Glenn Schnitzer is Regional Manager at Lanier Parking (Safety Program Leader for Houston) since November 2015. Previously, Corporate Security and Safety Manager for Nexeo Solutions. Contact him at gschnitzer@lanierparking.com 



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