All workplaces can be potentially hazardous, but working in the motor industry can provide more risks than most. According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) there have been 33 deaths and over 7000 injuries in the motor vehicle repair industry over the last 5 years.
Accidents in the body shop or repair workshop can result in injury to staff or members of the public leading to subsequent claims under your Motor Trade Insurance.
Even the safest workplace can provide hidden risks. As an employer you are legally required to assess the health and safety risks at your premises as part of your duty of care to your employees and customers.
For motor traders that repair vehicles in a garage, assessing workplace risks can seem overwhelming. Garages contain an array of dangerous hazards, some of which are only identifiable after you have completed a risk assessment. Complete the required risk assessment and identify your garage’s risks by following these steps:
#1 Handling Flammables and Chemicals
A body shop or vehicle servicing centre will typically handle chemicals and flammable liquids during the course of their working week.
It is important to read the manufacturers’ instructions carefully for all chemicals and equipment, ensuring that all staff members are adequately trained to handle and store the items safely. Certain specialist substances or machines may also require specific attention—risk assessments and rigid safety procedures will help to ensure you do not to overlook anything.
#2 Regular Safety Inspections
As an experienced Motor Trader, you are normally best placed within your business to identify the obvious hazards in your garage. Often you can do this by walking around your garage and noting anything that may cause harm.
Regular consultation with your employees can also determine what they deem most hazardous and what additional health and safety training may be needed. The key is making sure that inspections and feedback sessions are both frequent and robust.
#3 Waste Disposal
Garage waste can often be either toxic or flammable, both of which represent significant risk to either injury or fire. Best practise is to engage your licensed waste contractor, they will advise and build a specific waste disposal programme which is both safe and compliant.
#4 Accident Book
While prevention is always better than cure, a regular review of your accident book can help to identify accident trends. Once a gap in procedures or processes is highlighted you can implement an action plan to reduce future risk exposures and protect your employees more effectively.
#5 Ongoing Risk Management
While identifying your garage’s hazards, you should build a record of any further action you think needs to be taken, and develop a working document which becomes your risk management programme.
Your programme should include information on upcoming improvements, as well as who will action them and when, then post the risk assessment in a central location so all employees are aware of upcoming changes. The final step is establishing a timetable for reviewing your business’ risk assessment to keep it up to date.
Where To Find More Information
Familiarise yourself with HSE and industry guidance. Consult the HSE’s health and safety toolbox for all industries, found at www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/index.htm, and study the HSE’s health and safety in the motor vehicle repair industry materials located at www.hse.gov.uk/mvr/index.htm.
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