A recent tragedy at an auto auction in central Florida — a deadly accident in an auction lane during sale day — reminds us of the importance of safety in our auction environments. Our industry has made significant progress in developing safety standards and training. KAR created and continues to develop the Safe T. Sam program that is available to the entire industry. As a result of the widespread adoption of the Safe T. Sam program, the auto auction industry has seen a significant improvement in safety performance over the last decade. Safety enhancements under this program helped curb incidents. However, we haven’t eliminated the potential for tragic occurrences like the one in central Florida.
At KAR Auction Services, we are focused on three things: making the investments in infrastructure and technology to continuously improve safety, fostering individual stewardship of safety, and developing safety partnerships with our customers.
Investments in Infrastructure & Technology
At ADESA, we are continuously looking for ways to create safe working environments. We’ve looked to other industries for best practices — methods adopted, investments made and what’s working. For example, we’ve installed safety bollards at several auctions to ensure cars stay in their lane during the sale. And recently, we piloted a visual alert system that lights up in the lanes when a vehicle is moving — creating heightened awareness for otherwise distracted auction employees and customers. We remain open to new learnings and new technologies that can make our environment a safer place.
Individual Stewardship of Safety
Safety is not just a corporate initiative, nor is it solely a leadership responsibility. Safety is the responsibility of every individual member of the organization. We have a moral obligation to ensure each team member returns home safely to their families at the end of their work day. It is important that we not take this responsibility and obligation lightly. During our auction visits, we emphasize the need for leadership to make safety a priority and that it is the responsibility of each person at the auction. Safety is not just a compliance obligation or a training requirement, but a behavior and culture that we want to espouse at all times. While the continual safety training helps us with awareness, it is the constant mindfulness, awareness and practice of the right behaviors day-in and day-out that will help eliminate the potential for tragic accidents in our industry.
Partnering with Customers
While we have made significant progress in improving safety in our industry, we can always do more and do better. Our partnerships with our commercial customers have proven helpful in making meaningful changes toward more safe environments. Some of our commercial customers mandate the use of high-visibility vests for their staff when they visit the auctions. And together with our customers, we are exploring how to further make the running of cars safer in-lane during sale day. These incremental yet meaningful steps keep us positively energized that we can one day have auction sites with perfect or near-perfect safety records.
While we may not be able to eliminate the possibility for accidents in the work place, we have found a combination that is helping curb the potential for serious or tragic incidents at auto auctions. By making the investments, creating a culture of safety and getting buy-in from our customers, we are making auto auctions safer workplaces. Let’s create safe and secure environments by encouraging and empowering our team members to think about safety first.