29 March 2023

Why mechanics are under threat when under vehicles

By Road Runner

While it’s widely understood a great chunk of a mechanic’s working life is spent looking up at a vehicle’s undercarriage, what we tend to block out are the associated dangers that go the car spanner-in-hand with the job.

Now though, the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), in partnership with leading voices from the motor vehicle repair trade, are joining  forces to expose the dangers  – a significant move forward where on-the-job risks to mechanics are often swept into a corner to one of accountability and responsibility.

So, what are the main areas of risk that needed to be collectively addressed? Sadly, many of the life-changing injuries or fatalities have been traced back to mechanics working with incorrect or faulty equipment, or vehicles that aren’t properly supported.

The HSE have released some sobering stats to back this up:

  • 21 motor vehicles workers were killed in work-related incidents in the five years leading up to March 2022
  • 13 of these were while working under improperly supported vehicles
  • And in the last year, a further four more “crushing” deaths have been recorded
  • The annual death rate in the motor vehicle repair industry is 1.62 deaths per 100,000 workers – around four times the average rate across all industries
  • There are also scores of non-fatal injuries and near misses following work under poorly supported cars.

Aside from mechanical failure, there is another factor that is not helping when it comes to these tragic incidents. The tendency for some mechanics to say “no worries, it’ll only take a minute” without conducting all the safety checks, or the underlying expression of “It will never happen to me”  is the mentality that the HSE and its partners across the motor repair trade are determined to challenge and change.

This is clearly reinforced in the HSE-issued working safely under motor vehicles guidelines – which includes essential guidance on the “do’s and don’ts” when working in this environment. We’d also encourage those operating in vehicle workshops to take careful note of the safety alert for air suspension systems on vehicles.

Tim Griffin, Production and Engineering Director at CMC (Classic Motor Cars) Ltd added his support to under-car safety initiatives, saying:

I am saddened to hear of these tragedies. The situation could get worse as people and businesses may cut costs with higher energy bills. My plea is that it’s never a good time to cut corners – the stakes are too high.”

While prevention is always better than cure, what else can the motor repair industry do to protect itself, if and when something untoward were to happen whilst under the car?

Mechanic toolbox

At Road Runner our business is to protect your business, and the people within it. When you take out adequate insurance and abide by Health & Safety legislation – meaning LIA (legitimate interests’ assessment)  and possibly D&O (directors and officers) as well –  your mechanics are properly insured.

But we know that you never want to be in a position to make this sort of claim, so apart from following the advice and precautions set by the HSE, call us today on 03301 00 87 20, or request a quote or call-back here.