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Trainee’s death adds to BSI call

The jailing of a Sussex garage manager following the death of an employee in his workshop has prompted calls for the prompt adoption of a national safety standard.

Glen Hawkins, manager of Anchor Garage in Peacehaven, was found guilty of manslaughter last month after the death of 18-year-old apprentice mechanic Lewis Murphy. He was jailed for nine months. Garage owner Howard Hawkins was fined £10,000 with £15,000 costs.

Murphy was working with Hawkins pouring waste petrol from a dustbin into an oil disposal tank when a gas boiler flue next to the tank ignited the vapour, causing an explosion. Murphy suffered severe burns and died later in hospital.

“A national standard would ensure garages like this would have to address basic health and safety principles to be recognised as reputable,” says Chris Hallam of Automotive Advantage, the aftermarket consultancy working with the British Standards Institution to develop an official Kitemark for garages.

The BSI’s standard, due to be launched this autumn, will include processes for training, maintenance and the correct use of equipment designed to improve best practice.

This week, the National Consumer Council together with the Scottish and Welsh Consumer Councils threatened the SMMT, RMI and other industry bodies with a “supercomplaint” to the Office of Fair Trading over sub-standard servicing.

“Years of inaction defy the harm this sector inflicts on consumers,” says NCC chair Deirdre Hutton.

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