Working as a mechanic can be an enriching and fun career with a great deal of variety from one day to the next. There are more than 200,000 UK workers employed as motor vehicle mechanics, predominantly in small and medium-sized businesses.
According to figures collated by HSE and Local Authorities, there have been 7,000 injuries and 33 deaths over the last five years in the motor vehicle repair (MVR) industry. The number of accidents is quickly approaching that of the construction industry.
The accident figures show a worrying trend, so any business with mechanics on the payroll should take a moment’s pause, divulge the data, and investigate ways to keep mechanics safe.
The Risk Of Injury
Fatal injuries per 100,000 workers sit at 2.4, compared to 2.3 in construction and 1.1 in manufacturing. The latest figures (RIDDOR report) for non-fatal injuries by type of injury for auto mechanics are:
- Lifting and handling injuries: 303
- Slip, trip, or fall at the same level: 232
- Struck by an object: 170
- Fall from height: 79
- Struck against: 47
- Contact with machinery: 41
- Struck by moving vehicle: 31
- Exposure to fire: 15
- Exposed to harmful substances: 14
- Trapped by something collapsing: 6
So, what practical measures can your business put in place to reduce the risk of injury?
Keeping Workers Safe & Protected
Keeping workers safe and protected can be achieved through assessing the risks and counteracting them with appropriate measures. The top ways of maintaining mechanics safety include:
- Wearing will-fitting mechanics workwear – Workwear should not be too loose; otherwise, it can become ripped, torn, or pulled into the moving parts of equipment, machines, or engines.
- Using absorbent mats and wipers – Mats soak up potential spills as vehicles and engines are worked on. Wipers clean up accidental spills to prevent slips and should always be on hand.
- Wearing protective gear – Workwear should comply with safety regulations and protect against fire and harmful substances, such as solvents, lead, petrol, dust, and powders. Goggles, ear protection, and gloves should be worn for certain types of work.
- Keeping walkways clear – Any object left in walkways, including parts and tools, poses a potential trip risk. Keep your space organised and use tool cabinets.
- Disconnecting batteries when working on electrical systems – Current can potentially pass through circuitry even when the vehicle is off.
- Never working alone in confined spaces – Confined spaces pose several risks, including dangerous changes in air quality, trapping or crushing, and fire dangers.
- Keeping fire extinguishers accessible – Flame retardant workwear will keep mechanics safe for vital seconds while they escape flames. Still, you can lower injury risks further by having the correct fire extinguishers for electrical, gas, and oil-based fires.
- Never placing tools in a running engine – Any accidental knock of your tools could see them fall into moving engine parts, which could fire them back towards you with considerable force.
- Never smoking in garages and repair bays – Combustible and flammable substances are often unavoidably present, so refraining from smoking is vital.
- Choose workwear with long sleeves when working on engines – Any engine that has run can remain hot for a significant length of time. Long sleeves will protect mechanics’ arms from burns when working on engines, the manifold, radiator, or exhaust system.
If you own a business that employs mechanics, it is your responsibility to regularly train your workers on safety and provide workwear that meets safety standards.
To discuss improving garage safety through workwear rental for mechanics, please contact our team today.