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Safety in...

Motor Vehicle Sales and Repair

The following details highlight some of the hazards and risks that might exist in motor vehicle sales and repair centres. They will vary depending on your own particular business.

Sales Area

Risks arise from the movement of vehicles, exposure to exhaust gases and oil/fuel spillages leading to slips and falls.

Managing the risk:

  • Devise a safe system for moving vehicles into and out of the showroom.
  • Provide adequate ventilation and ensure that engines are not allowed to run for longer than necessary.
  • Ensure that all spillages of oil or fuel are cleaned up immediately. Absorbent materials should be readily available for this purpose. If petrol is soaked up it needs to be disposed of as flammable material.

Lifting Equipment

Misuse or failure of equipment such as hoists, cranes and jacks, has led to extremely serious injuries.

Managing the risk:

  • Have all lifting equipment including jacks thoroughly examined by a competent person, i.e. an Engineer from Insurance Company, in addition to regular inspection by a trained member of staff. Any necessary repairs to be carried out immediately.
  • Ensure that maximum working loads are never exceeded.
  • Hoists should be fitted with 'dead mans' controls, toe protection and automatic chocking. Never allow raised platforms to be used as working areas unless proper guard rails are fitted.
  • Ensure that axle props are used to support raised vehicles, never allow anyone to work beneath a vehicle supported only by jacks.
  • Train all staff in the safe use of all lifting equipment.

Vehicle Inspection Pits

Flammable vapours from petrol, paints and solvents can build up to explosive concentrations in such pits. People may also be injured by falling into unguarded pits.

Managing the risk:

  • Vehicle inspection pits should be phased out in favour of purpose built vehicle lifts. If pits are currently in use, then you should ensure that all electrical equipment (including lighting and electric hand tools) is 'explosion protected'. Pits should be fenced or boarded when not in use.

Compressed Air Equipment

Injuries, occasionally fatal, have been caused by accidental or deliberate injection into the body.

Managing the risk:

  • Have the air receiver and air powered equipment examined regularly by a competent person in accordance with the frequency specified by a written scheme of examination.
  • Ensure that hand tools operate at a pressure that is compatible with that of the supply line.
  • Never use compressed air to clean up and ban horseplay with this equipment.


Spillages of petrol, due to damage to fuel lines or the use of unsuitable containers, can lead to a serious risk of fire.

Managing the risk:

  • Assess whether petrol needs to be removed, e.g. if welding next to a fuel line, and, if so, use a fuel receiver to avoid spillages.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area away from sources of ignition.
  • Spillages to be cleaned up immediately and the soiled materials stored in an appropriate lidded container.

Used Engine Oils

Frequent, prolonged contact with used engine oils may cause dermatitis and other skin conditions, including skin cancer.

Managing the risk:

  • Ensure that protective clothing is worn and that it is cleaned and replaced regularly.
  • Dispose of waste oils safely in lidded metal containers.
  • Availability of clean washing facilities.
  • Use of barrier creams/gloves.
  • Prohibit smoking.

Exhaust Fumes

Vehicle exhaust fumes are toxic.

Managing the risk:

  • Provide extract or exhaust ventilation, preferably by direct coupling to the vehicle exhaust (use even where catalytic converters have been fitted). Ensure that all couplings and flexible connections are maintained in good condition.

Battery Charging

During and after charging, batteries give off hydrogen, an easily ignited and explosive gas.

Managing the risk:

  • Carry out charging in a well-ventilated area and follow individual manufacturer charging instructions.
  • Switch off the battery charger before connecting and disconnecting the clips.
  • Training.
  • Prohibit training.

Brakes and Clutch Linings

Some brake and clutch linings still contain asbestos. The dust created when working with these parts could be harmful if inhaled.

Managing the risk:

  • Never blow dust from brake drums or clutch housings using an airline. Use properly designed drum cleaning equipment and wet rags. Ensure that proper overalls and masks are worn. Use grinding and drilling machines with integral exhaust ventilation.
  • Provide a special vacuum (Type H) for dust removal.

Wheels and Tyres

  • Air blasts from over inflation of car tyres can cause injuries.
  • Contact with rotating wheels during wheel balancing may cause friction burns.

Managing the risk:

  • Raise and support the vehicles safely.
  • Remove the valve core to deflate tyres.
  • Use an airline with a 'dead mans' handle and ensure pressure gauges are reading accurately.
  • Ensure wheel-balancing machines are fitted with a fully interlocked cover.

Rolling Roads/Brake Testing

Serious injuries have been caused by operators attempting to make adjustments to vehicles under test.

Managing the risk:

  • Ensure only fully trained operators use equipment.
  • Fit guards to the sides of exposed rolls and provide dead mans controls.

Vehicle Valeting

Proprietary cleaners often contain toxic and flammable solvents. The risk of slips and trips can be increased if cleaning agents are spilt and not wiped up properly.

Managing the risk:

  • Use the least hazardous materials available.
  • Wear personal protective equipment, including eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Keep the valeting area free from sources of ignition and ventilate the car.

Steam Cleaning

There is a risk of electric shock because all or part of the machine is often in a wet environment.

Managing the risk:

  • Protect the circuit supplying these machines with a 30mA Residual Current Device (RCD) and establish a system of routine maintenance, testing and repair for the installation and safety devices.

Welding and Flame Cutting

Risks include: burns, eye damage due to metal fragments or electromagnetic radiation, harmful fumes from paints etc. and fire caused by ignition of materials such as petrol or carpets.

Managing the risk:

  • For arc welding equipment provide fuse protection and earth the work piece.
  • Use welding screens and eye protection.
  • Control fumes using local exhaust ventilation and prevent fires by removing flammable materials first.
  • Ensure all oxyacetylene equipment has a flashback flame arrestor and a non-return valve. Store cylinders upright and protect by securing to rack or trolley.

Body Filling and Preparation

  • Mixing, applying and finishing fillers may generate toxic fumes.
  • Some materials can also cause dermatitis.
  • Grinding operations can cause excessive noise levels that may damage hearing.
  • Damage to eyes from particles.

Managing the risk:

  • Use least harmful material available and ensure that respiratory protection and protective clothing are worn.
  • Provide ear protection if necessary.
  • Carry out bodywork in a mechanically ventilated booth fitted with dust tight lighting.
  • Use tools with integral dust extraction.

Painting and Spraying

Many paints and solvents used in vehicle finishing give off vapours which are readily ignited and often toxic.

Managing the risk:

  • Store paints in a fire-resisting store.
  • To minimize spillages decant over a tray and use work benches with edging lips. Soak up spillages with absorbent material immediately. Dispose of flammable material in a metal lidded container.
  • Seek advice of an occupational doctor if using 2-pack paints.
  • Locate paint mixing unit in a fire resisting separate room and exclude ignition sources.
  • Spray only in mechanically ventilated booths.
  • Use only mechanically ventilated ovens for accelerating curing.
  • Ensure breathing apparatus, gloves, eye protection and overalls are worn when mixing and spraying.

Electrical Safety

Electric shock or fire can be caused by poor electrical standards.

Managing the risk:

  • Ensure that the electrical system and all equipment is regularly inspected and maintained in good condition.
  • Protect cables against mechanical damage.
  • In workshops all parts of the fixed installation should be 1m above floor level to reduce risk of ignition.
  • Hand lamps and other electric hand tools should be supplied by reduced voltages or should be 'all insulated' or 'double insulated'.
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