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With regulations constantly changing, this session explores the broad scope and reach of the OSH Act, which is where OSHA and related state agencies draw their authority from. It will also discuss the differences between state and federal enforcement and how in California the Division of Occupational Safety and Health-- CAL/OSHA--applies. Join Brian J. Riker for his informative session, “OSHA and the Towing Industry,” taking place during Tow Industry Week at the American Towman ShowPlace, May 8-11, at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Uniforms, Professionalism and Appearance

NC 07f81(Image – Tom Toby, Thomas Towing & Transport; Wilmington, NC)

By Randall C. Resch

Picture this: a middle-aged tow operator arrives to tow your car. His jeans are faded, torn and filthy. His body odor is so foul it's melted the tint on the tow truck's windows. He's wearing a greasy, untucked and stained T-shirt that says, "Go Ask Rocky." He's unshaven and wearing his hat backwards. His T-shirt's neck area bears a yellow, crud-crusted stain, and, as he reaches into your car to shift the car's tranny to neutral, his butt crack smiles back at you.

Can ya picture it?

If you think back to some of the past media blitzes characterizing tow truck drivers as greasy, stinky, unshaven, junkyard performers ... that's probably a descriptive stereotype of what the motoring public thinks about the towing and recovery industry.

To me, there's something very business-like and calming that comes with uniformed drivers wearing a clean, crisp, company uniform. When that first impression is a direct reflection of company management, I believe that looking professional tends to invite the motoring public to think their vehicle and service needs are going to be well cared for. Call it, "Psychological Profiling."

For the towing and recovery industry there are many different styles of uniforms that run the gamut from jeans and T-shirts, shorts, polo shirts with tennis shoes, to long sleeves and matching pants. No matter what style uniform your company selects for day-to-day wear, cleanliness is the key to lasting appeal.

Keeping it Clean

Our industry attracts dirt, grease and grime. Because even the simplest tasks have potential of turning a clean towman into a proverbial grease-ball, trying to stay out of dirt and grease by itself is a full-time job. Having been in and around this industry all my life, I fully understand that it's a dirty environment and towers get grimy.

However, I believe it's just as easy to stay clean as it is to get dirty. Personally, I won't drop to the pavement and crawl under a vehicle to hook it up without first dropping an old blanket, drop cloth or square chunk of old carpet as a surface protector. If I'm working a recovery, driveshaft removal, or doing something that's really greasy, I'll put on a pair of long-sleeved coveralls as my outermost garment.

Doing so helps to keep my uniform as clean as possible. More importantly, keeping one's uniform clean also helps prevent from bringing unnecessary oil, grease and dirt into the tow truck's interior or the customer's car.

The Contract

For tow companies serving law enforcement as rotation towers, most formal contracts stipulate that responding tow operators wear a uniform bearing the company's and driver's names. For example, uniform requirements stipulated by the California Highway Patrol calls for tow truck drivers to wear an identifiable uniform displaying the company and the driver's name while engaged in CHP rotation tow operations.

It also states that CHP towers shall present a professional image. An unacceptable representation would include unbathed, excessively dirty/torn uniform, inappropriate visible body art, visible body piercings, etc.

Because we towmen respond to service, accident and impound requests for law enforcement, our companies arrive as a representative for their agencies. You won't see the police running around in dirty, unkempt uniforms; so, our appearances should be in line with theirs: clean, neat and professional.

Cleanliness is a daily, ongoing personal obligation that goes beyond wearing the same uniform or clothes for days. While management shouldn't have to remind employees to look sharp and presentable, a little self-awareness (and, phew, some deodorant!) might be in order.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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