3 Automotive Industry Stresses You Can Avoid

by Lee Kennedy

July 27, 2017

Automotive Safety Stress

Avoiding stress in the Automotive Industry

Lee Kennedy describes the biggest safety stresses in the automotive industry and how you can safeguard your company

Having worked within the motor trade for a number of years, I thought I would share 3 areas of business that can lead to stress and give you some clear guidance on how to reduce the risk of blowing a gasket in your grey matter.

Whether you own a business, run a department or assist running a team within an organisation, chances are one thing you don't have an abundance of is time. Since the global financial crisis, when all industries had to change the way they did business, incorporating systems and cutting costs.

As other people work longer hours, with more businesses open all weekend, work hours have got longer and teams have stayed the same size, often with managers having to take on several responsibilities. Manufacturers expect more from companies who represent their brands and manufacturer approval audits feature as a necessary distraction to most dealerships and body repairers. With the introduction of new technology, training is required to keep up with the manufacturer's standards.

Next year data protection laws will change that will effect the industry and no doubt will lead to system changes.

Throughout all of this the automotive industry still had 33 deaths and 7000 injuries recorded over the past 5 years. As a business owner or director, Corporate Manslaughter is possibly on of the biggest threats to your business and can effectively wipe out generations of good business practice.

Although this is an extreme case, it can happen to anyone. The difference between prosecution and investigation in any accident or near miss will be how much any business has done to avoid an accident from happening and how much of this is documented.

The Responsible Person (health and safety term for the person ultimately responsible for making decisions in a business - this is in most cases the business owner) must be able to prove that every effort has been taken to ensure any person working within a business (employed or contracted) has been appropriately trained, has the necessary equipment and is working in a safe working environment. If this is not the case there may be a number of outcomes.

  • Prosecution - can be imprisonment, unlimited fines and barred from being a director for 4 years.
  • Fees For Intervention - The HSE can charge £175.00 + VAT per hour for any time taken to investigate a potential breach of health and safety law.
  • Accident claims for injuries - these can raise premiums and may lead to a risk improvement review from your insurer.

All of these cause added stress to the business and your teams, not to mention the time taken to deal with the initial incident, the loss of a team member through injury, not being able to use plant or equipment while under investigation and the cost through fines or claims.

So, how can you avoid this stress? I have 3 steps you can take immediately to ensure you have this area of your business in order and protect your business.

  • If you have any doubt about how robust your safety procedures are, get a second opinion. There are experts who specialise in automotive safety, if you have the resources, get in touch with one of these, they should be able to work with your team to improve safety, they should be visiting each site at least twice a year and can write all safety related documentation and recommend the training you will need within your business to be compliant.
  • Form a safety committee and ensure you hold regular meetings. I am confident all businesses meet regularly to discuss targets relating to sales, finances and performance, safety should be included, minuted and documented. It is a legal requirement and most safety professionals will assist with this.
  • If you have an internal safety team, consider a fresh opinion; by bringing an external source to review your systems you may learn the safety professionals within your team are not capturing all of the information required to ensure you are meeting best practice. This may be due to over work, too large an area to cover with too few resources, internal politics and becoming immersed in the safety culture of the business - how many times have you walked past something you know you need to fix and more you walk past it and see it, the more you ignore it? We all do this, a fresh pair of eyes will notice this immediately.

Health and safety is not a popular subject, I know but I recently reviewed my last will and testament, death in service and health insurances, since I have done this, I have slept much better, knowing my family will not have to worry financially should the worst happen. It is not nice to think about it, but it is inevitably going to happen one day.

You will have an incident in your business, I hope it is not serious, but please, make sure you are covered. I guarantee you will sleep better when you do.