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HSE inspectors to target vehicle repairers

The motor vehicle repairs industry is being warned to prepare for an increase in Health and Safety Executive inspections.

Motor repair workshops should expect an increase in the frequency of HSE visits as more inspectors are being recruited and trained by HSE - 100 new recruits started in October - for the engineering sector.

Motor vehicle repair (MVR) counts as light engineering and provides a useful training ground for HSE inspectors before they move into more complex or heavier engineering activities.

The warnings come from the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI).

Its environment, health and safety adviser Peter Barlow, said: “Inspectors dissatisfied with health and safety arrangements will issue an improvement notice and deadline for completion of the necessary actions, to which motor vehicle repair businesses should react immediately. MVR businesses should seek advice if they are unsure as to what is required.”

The RMI has discovered that HSE inspectors look at four main areas when they call and has offered this information.

  • Does your company have a written health and safety policy statement? This is a basic recognition that employers have responsibilities for the health and safety of their employees and others with whom they deal in the conduct of business. Every business with five or more employees must have one. It should state who is responsible for ensuring policy implementation
  • Does your business have a risk assessment for the substances and preparations used on site as required by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations? Every fuel, lubricant, aerosol, paste or fluid you have on site will have a material safety data sheet (MSDS) produced by the manufacturer in a 16-heading EU format. Ask for copies from your supplier and act on the information given. You must extract from the MSDS details of the risks associated with the material and the safety precautions to be followed to ensure safe use. Most importantly, this information must be communicated to employees using that material.
  • Has your business undertaken an assessment of the risks to employees and others of the activities and equipment used on or off the premises by employees as required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations? Having identified the associated risks, employers must aim to reduce those risks to the minimum by putting in place the necessary policies and procedures. The findings must be communicated to the employees concerned
  • Has your business produced a fire risk assessment (FRA) for its premises? This is more detailed than the fire certificate produced by the local authority, which is primarily concerned with ensuring people can exit the building safely in the event of fire. The FRA looks at the flammable materials and sources of ignition, the location of people at risk, reducing that risk, fire detection and warning systems, means of escape, means of fighting fire, and maintenance and testing of fire fighting equipment.

    RMI-member garages should contact the RMI on 01788 576 465 for guidance on the legal requirements.

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