H & S Guidance – Motor Vehicle Repair

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Every year there are over 2000 accidents in garages and vehicle repair workshops reported to enforcing authorities. Many more may go unreported. Accidents may range from a high number of slips, trips and falls (some of which may result in serious injury) to accidents arising from working on, or moving, vehicles. There is also widespread potential for work-related ill health from substances used in Motor Vehicle Repair (MVR) premises. The booklet HS(G)67, ‘Health and Safety in Motor Vehicle Repair’ contains extensive safety advice regarding MVR premises, which is summarised/outlined in the following sections.


1. Lifting equipment – safety features; marking; proper use; maintenance and inspection/examination. A summary of the statutory examination of lifting equipment is as follows:-

PlantTest & Thorough Examination Prior to UseCertificate of Test & Examination Periodic Thorough Examination
Chains, ropes & lifting tackleYES (except for fibre rope and fibre rope sling)YES, specifying safe working loadAt least every 6 months
Hoists & LiftsNONOAt least every 6 months if used to lift people (12 months if not), or in accordance with a scheme drawn up by a competent person.
Cranes and other lifting machinesYESYESspecifying safe working loadAt least every 14 months

2. Electrical Safety

(a) Fixed electrical system – siting of switchgear; protective devices; labelling of switches; protection of wiring; to be 1m above floor level; lighting; periodic inspection (5 yearly recommended)

(b) Handlamps – ‘all-insulated’ or ‘double insulated’; robust; low voltage; not to be used in inspection pits or paint spraying areas unless protected against ignition of highly flammable liquids.

(c) Portable electrical tools – industrial type plugs and sockets; suitable construction of wiring/cabling; reduced voltage (but note: this doesn’t protect against petrol ignition); maintenance (competent person, appropriate frequency, records to be kept)

3. Compressed Air –a written scheme of examination required for air receivers etc.; regular examination by competent person; dangers of ‘horseplay’.

4. Vehicle inspection pits – suitable electrical equipment (potentially explosive atmosphere); fencing/ boarding of pit when not in use; lighting and marking of edges; restriction of access; smoking prohibition.

5. Petrol fires – any necessary removal of petrol to be done preferably in the open air, with battery disconnected and possible sources of ignition removed; use of a fuel retriever to minimise spillage; no hot work on tank.

6. Brake and clutch linings – potential hazard from asbestos containing products; suitable precautions required and safe systems of work.  No cleaning out with compressed air.

7. Wheels and tyres – hazards from over inflation, friction burns and welding of wheels (Look at Tyre and Exhaust Fitting).

8. Batteries and chargers – (Look at Battery Charging).

9. Used engine oils – potential for dermatitis and skin disorders including cancer; avoid contact; use of protective clothing, good personal hygiene (Look at Carcinogens).

10. Engine running -recommendation that exhaust extraction equipment is used to prevent exposure to hazardous substances in poorly ventilated areas.

11. Rolling roads/brake testing – ‘dead mans’ controls; access controlled guarding; maintenance and safe system of working.

12. Vehicle valeting – hazardous substances (toxic/ flammable solvents); COSHH assessment; ventilation; protective clothing.

13. Steam and water pressure cleaners -reduced voltage; fixed cabling where possible; earth continuity/use of RCD’s; maintenance, testing and repair procedures and documentation; eye protection.


1. Flame cutting and welding – precautions against electric shock and u/v radiation; local exhaust ventilation wherever possible; fire prevention actions; storage and use of flammable gas cylinders.

2. Noise – if more than 80 dB(A) daily exposure to noise, a noise assessment is required and ear protection to be provided; if more than 85 dB(A) further action required to reduce noise and exposure is required; acoustic partitioning; information, instruction and training; job rotation possible?

3. Body filling and preparation -COSHH assessments; separate body filling and preparation area, preferably in a mechanically ventilated booth; dust minimisation; respiratory protective equipment and protective clothing.


1. General – no more than 50 litres for immediate use in workplace (in metal cupboard), remainder in fire-resisting store; good housekeeping; exclude sources of ignition; explosion protection lighting and electrical equipment within 2m of mixing area; ventilation.

2. Paint mixing – proprietary systems will minimise vapours and storage quantities; fire and explosion precautions.

3. Paints containing isocyanates – irritant and may cause asthma; COSHH assessment; ventilation; protective clothing and respiratory protective equipment.

4. Paints and thinners – inhalation hazard; COSHH assessment etc; compressed airline breathing apparatus or air fed equipment may be suitable for most jobs; segregation; ventilation; personal protection; spray only in enclosures or booths or in controlled spray spaces; advice on spraying in a single room workshop also provided.

5. Maintenance etc. of ventilation -regular examination and testing of all engineering controls (i.e. local exhaust ventilation) every 14 months; examination and test of respiratory protective equipment; records to be kept.


1. Health and Safety in Motor Vehicle Repair (HS(G)67) (ISBN 0-7176-0483-7) (HSE) – (£5.50)

2. Control of Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions in the Workplace.Booklet HSG187 (HSE)
(ISBN 0-7176 1662 2)(£6.95)

3. Health and Safety in tyre and exhaust fitting premises (HSE HS(G)62)- (£7.50)

4. Safe Use of Petrol in Garages (IND (G) 331)(HSE).(Free)

5. Reducing ill health and accidents in motor vehicle repair. (INDG 356)(2002)(HSE)(Free)

6. Safety in Gas Welding, cutting and similar processes (INDG 297)