Working in the motor trade industry comes with its own set of potential risks, but as with any industry, following the right procedures is a huge step in preventing mishaps occuring. Knowing what might happen and how to avoid it is the first step.
Repetitive strain injuries
Performing the same actions for extended periods of time can result in pain known as a repetitive strain injury (RSI), often in the shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers. As the symptoms are usually mild to begin with they are easy to ignore, but this can result in more severe problems over time. If left untreated, RSI can be debilitating and affect areas of life outside the workplace, including the ability to perform everyday tasks and to sleep. RSI can affect the mechanics in your team, but also those undertaking office-based tasks.
SOLUTION Ensure everyone is aware of the risks, takes regular breaks from the repetitive actions, and ensure workstations are ergonomically designed.
Hazardous substances and toxic fumes
Everyday vehicle repair and maintenance means coming into contact with hazardous substances such as engine oil, exhaust fumes (notably carbon monoxide) and other cleaning chemicals. Exhaust fumes emitted by vehicle engines contain many toxic substances that can cause different medical conditions, from temporary skin and eye irritation to damage to the respiratory tract and lungs.
SOLUTION Prevent health concerns by ensuring all staff have been properly trained on storage and usage recommendations. Supply PPE where appropriate – this could include gloves, goggles, masks, and long-sleeved clothing – and ensure staff wear it. Have protocols in place for the reporting of spills and injuries. Ventilation is key for preventing the build up of harmful fumes.
Gaining access to vehicles means jacks are routinely used to lift the vehicle and enable mechanics to carry out a full inspection of the undercarriage, plus any maintenance and repairs that may be necessary. There is a risk of a vehicle rolling off a lift or falling if a jack fails, and were this to happen the worker below could easily be injured. Considering the combined weight of the vehicle and the machinery, resulting injuries could be life-changing – or even fatal.
SOLUTION Regularly inspect and maintain car lifts and jacks. Only use jacks on stable ground and ensure the vehicle is securely locked in place before hoisting the jack. Stick to safe working load limits, and ensure everyone who uses the equipment is trained to do so.
Risk of fire and electric shock
Faulty electrical installation or equipment, overcharged batteries and the presence of petrol pose a risk for fires or electrocution.
SOLUTION Carry out a fire risk assessment of the garage, and address any risks that are highlighted. Train staff to use electrical devices safely, and to be alert to potential fire or electrical hazards. Regularly maintain electric installations and fire detection systems.
Train your team
Strains, slips and falls are risks in a garage, and you’ll want to protect your staff. Moving heavy objects improperly can cause injuries and back pain. Slips and trips are a huge cause of work-related accidents, due to liquid spills, unsafe stairs and uneven surfaces.
SOLUTION Staff should always use the correct equipment – such as a trolley – to move heavy objects.Promptly clean up spills, use doormats to prevent water being walked into the garage, secure leads or cables, and make sure the property is well lit.
Injury to members of the public
With the potential hazards listed above, it’s clear that access to the garage should be limited.
SOLUTION Prevent the public from accessing hazardous areas, with clear signage warning of the risks. Ensure everyone on the team is comfortable with stopping anyone who enters the workshop without permission.
Make sure you have the right insurance in place
Any of these hazards could result in a claim that could leave you seriously out of pocket. Organising your insurance with an experienced broker means you’ll be covered should the worst happen. If you are looking for value, choice and expertise Britton Insurance is one of Ireland’s leading Motor Trade insurance brokers. With competitive rates our experienced Motor Trade team will offer you a range of options designed with you in mind.