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As the lot turns...

Our Multifaceted Approach to Auction Safety Compliance

Posted by Angela Whitt on Nov 2, 2016 2:51:17 PM

A proper Compliance Management Program includes the necessity of having a compliance officer with access to upper management and a budget directed at compliance-related activities. Angela Whitt serves the role as full-time compliance officer at Columbus Fair Auto Auction.




Sometimes compliance is about safety.  

Our industry is extremely focused right now on what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is up to next and if our Consumer Complaint Management Program is up to speed. If an auction does not take the appropriate steps, they can overlook a fundamental necessity for every auction – safety. This not only applies to the safety dealers and public individuals on auction day, but encompasses safety for employees, vendors, and partners found on every auction’s campus. 

On October 27th, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data for 2015 occupational injuries and illnesses, which shows a continued decrease of workplace injuries.  While this trend has continued, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) commented that this “is still far too many” and that OSHA will continue to do all they can to “drive the rate down.”  This data shows the current rate is 3 cases per 100 workers – but how do auto auctions perform? For full service auctions that offer mechanical, reconditioning, and auto body services, this rate may be higher.

We take a multifaceted approach safety compliance.

Safety in the auto auction environment requires a multifaceted approach to address the many moving pieces.  Employees and guests alike must maintain high levels of alertness and vigilance to the inherent dangers of the auction – the constant changing conditions and fast pace of any bustling business.  At Columbus Fair Auto Auction (CFAA), taking a closer look at our annual and continuous training programs has helped direct efforts in improving visual reminders for safety around the campus and in the shops.  CFAA also added new online courses offered by the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) and by Ohio’s Bureau of Worker’s Compensation. But training, fire drills, and signs are not enough.

Auctions have their work cut out for them.

That begs the question for auto auctions – what are we missing?

There is no single answer:

  • Better procedures.
  • An on-staff safety inspector with 10 or 30 hour OSHA training in general industry.  
  • A comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan.  
  • More time to give drivers auction driving simulations.  
  • More cost effective resources for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE.)  
  • More compliant employees who will wear that PPE and follow those procedures.
What this means, is that every auto auction has their work cut out for them, day in and day out.

Avoid clichés.

There is an excellent article by Jill James about clichés in the safety arena that, while not specific to auto auctions, is very enlightening.  Safety clichés such as "the employee should have known better" and "safety is common knowledge" often provides convenient excuses for why an accident occurs or how it’s “everyone’s responsibility", but do little to effectively communicate the reality of a safe workplace.  The writer worked for a company that, like many auto auctions, employed multiple family members. After one those family members was injured, the company came to understand that safety extended beyond the company’s bottom line – the time lost, the impact on business, the employee’s family and everyone they came into contact, and even into the community that relied on that business or that injured employee and their family.

That’s a powerful concept and challenge.  


Topics: auction compliance, compliance, liability, safety training, auction safety, OSHA requirements

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