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Is your motor trade business up to speed with health and safety?

Working in the motor trade industry has its highlights, but it can also be a dangerous and stressful line of work.

From slips and falls to poorly supported vehicles, workers in the motor trade can be at risk if health and safety isn’t up to par. Illness, including mental illness, can also have a huge impact on workforce wellbeing

Let’s take a closer look.

What are the health and safety risks?

In recent years, there seems to have been an increased risk of injury in the motor sector. Within vehicle repair, the HSE has previously reported that accident rates in this area outstretched the average for the whole of the manufacturing sector.

And these risks remain high. Indeed, HSE statistics have now revealed that in the 5 years to March 2022, 21 motor vehicle repair personnel were killed. Of these, 13 were the result of an incorrectly supported vehicle.

Of course, not all businesses within the motor trade industry deal with repairs. But there are still many risks posed to employees. For instance, slips, trips and falls remain the leading cause of non-fatal injury to all kinds of businesses and can lead to serious injuries and lengthy absences from work.

Work-related ill-health is also common in motor trade businesses. Those who deal with certain chemicals may experience respiratory problems or skin conditions, for instance.

Poor mental health is also increasingly being highlighted as an issue in the automotive sector. The charity Ben, which supports past and present automotive workers, revealed in their 2023 report that stress is now the biggest issue in the sector. This was closely followed by poor sleep and low mood. The report also found that higher workloads and pressure to meet targets had ramped up workplace stress by 8% from 2022.

In addition, the report flagged up musculoskeletal problems as a key concern. Of the 1,000 automotive workers surveyed, 38% said that they had been personally affected by musculoskeletal issues, such as back and joint pain.

What are the consequences of poor health and safety?

Poorly managed health and safety can lead to injuries, illness and even death. Your motor trade business may have to cope with long staff absences, a loss of reputation or legal action.

In the last few years, fines for health and safety breaches have increased. This is because guidelines for sentencing health and safety offences were updated in 2016, a change which has led to higher fines and more enforcement notices being issued.

On average, the fine issued by the courts for health and safety breaches sat at £97,808 in 2023. This is more than double the average issued in 2019. 

Investing in your business’ health and safety is therefore more than worthwhile.

What you can do to reduce motor trade workplace risks
  • Check that your health and safety policy is up to date. It should be reviewed if anything changes within your business, there has been an incident, or opportunities for improvement have been discovered.
  • Review your risk assessments regularly to make sure you have identified all relevant risks.
  • Put measures in place to mitigate or remove the risks you have found. It’s worth involving your team so that they buy into the process.
  • Ensure that your employees have the right protective equipment and that it is in good condition.
  • Ensure that your employees have had health and safety training and that their training on equipment is up to date.
  • Maintain an Accident Log and report any relevant illnesses and injuries to the HSE.
  • Train and appoint a first aider.
  • Maintain a first aid kit, ensuring that it is regularly restocked.
  • Review your safety measures with your employees and ask them to sign a declaration that you have shared this information with them.
  • Monitor your workplace to keep an eye on any new, emerging or overlooked risks.
  • Carry out regular maintenance of the equipment in your workplace.
  • Investigate any accidents or near-misses and put plans in place to prevent them from happening again.
  • Follow up any absences from work as it could be caused by a work-related illness or injury.
  • Consider a Health and Safety Management System, although this may not be needed in a smaller organisation.

To get more health and safety guidance, visit the HSE’s website.

Talk to us about your Motor Trade Business Insurance

Even with the right processes in place, sometimes the worst can happen. This is why it is so important to put suitable insurance in place. 

If you’d like to find out more, or get a quote, you can get in touch with our knowledgeable Motor Trade Insurance or Motorcycle Motor Trade Insurance teams. 

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