Why a Risk Assessment simply isn't enough in the automotive world...

by Lee Kennedy

August 27, 2017

Automotive risk assessments

But why is your risk assessment not enough?

An insight into my experience

As a safety professional who has worked in the motor trade for a number of years I am pleased to say that most automotive repair businesses understand the importance of having safe systems of work, risk assessments and health and safety policies in place. There is always a gap within these standards and this is usually a direct response from the management within the company and their attitude towards safety.

As a business owner, I get it, it's hard enough running a business and keeping up with the demands of customers, manufacturers and technology as new repair methods or materials are used without having to keep one eye on health and safety, after all, it's just common sense, right? It should be, but is common sense as common as it once was?

We all understand the purpose of a risk assessment; to identify the hazards and introduce control measures that reduce the risk to as low as possible.

What is more important is what we are doing before, during and after we write this risk assessment to make sure it ties in with your policies.

Getting to the nitty-gritty;

"Unfortunately when we go to investigate too many accidents, there is very little in the way of documentary evidence"

I see a common flaw in many company safety policies; it will always state in a good policy manual that all employees will be inducted about relevant safety procedures and areas specific to the individuals role within the organisation. Unfortunately when we go to investigate too many accidents, there is very little in the way of documentary evidence to support this, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been issued to the individual and not physically checked, accidents occur and are not recorded in accident books, when you ask apprentices or young workers where the fire assembly point is or who the first aider is we are met with blank stares. Test this in your own workplace or business, if you have a flaw in any part, you are leaving a huge gap which can cost you any profit you have made within the last quarter or maybe worse, it could cost the entire business.

Recently I have found the HSE and insurance providers are more concerned about what is behind the risk assessment, the bigger picture, there is more of an emphasis on training of the individual carrying out the task than a general risk assessment that highlights the risks involved.

So, what is the answer?.....

Having liaised with the HSE on this matter, particularly relating to motor vehicle repair, it appears they would prefer to see individual employees given more training that is specific to their workplace. A master technician may well have over 10 years experience working with a particular make of vehicle but do they know the safe working procedures at this site? And can you evidence this?

Luckily, I've found a solution...

I intend to make the issue of safety training more accessible, practical and cost effective by providing the same type of training the manufacturers offer, online training. The cost of having a safety trainer come into your business, take your team away from the shop floor and deliver up to 2-3 hours of training is no longer a practical step.

Providing a low cost, easy to use online platform that leverages time and covers basic safety training such as manual handling, fire awareness and display screen equipment training will cover most businesses but later introducing work at height, fire marshal, first aid refresher, COSHH & PPE training would work extremely well and supplement a risk assessment, evidence that an employer has specifically trained team members and if there was an integrated training matrix for all sites within a group of businesses, it would be easy to track and will leverage health and safety professionals and HR departments, giving them a simple and low cost solution.

In the next few weeks I will be letting you know about a new product I have developed to help you solve this problem.

Thank you very much for your time and if you would like some more details, I will be happy for anyone to email me.


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