Staying safe in the motor trade: creating a Covid-secure workplace

Auto mechanic man with face mask

During and after the coronavirus crisis, the motor trade needs to return to work safely. Here’s our advice on creating a ‘Covid-secure’ environment.

With lockdown restrictions easing, motor traders across the UK are heading back to work.

Some businesses – such as service and repair garages – have stayed open throughout lockdown. This has helped to provide a vital service for keyworkers. Others – such as car dealers – have complied with government guidelines and closed their business premises completely.

Whatever you do in the motor trade, as you get back to your workshop, garage or other premises, it’s imperative that you create a ‘Covid-secure’ environment. This helps to minimise the risks of spreading the virus amongst employees, visitors, contractors and customers.

Here, we discuss some of the things you need to consider when planning a safe, compliant working environment.

Returning to work: the basic considerations

Before setting foot in the workplace, there are some basic things to consider.

Is it essential for Motor Traders to return to work?

Not all motor traders can work from home, but is it possible that you or your staff could?

Working in service and repair doesn’t always mean that you need to be in business premises. Can vehicles be safely repaired off-site?

If you trade vehicles, can you do this effectively online? Picking up and dropping off vehicles may not require physical premises, and unaccompanied test drives are now possible (see below for more information).

When collating paperwork, managing finances or booking appointments, can this be done off-site?
It might be easier to do some or all these things in business premises – but is it essential?

Is it safe for Motor Traders to return to work?

All employers are required by law to protect their workers and others from health and safety risks. To do this, you will need to carry out a thorough risk assessment. In addition to the usual safe systems of work, you will now need to assess the risks of Covid-19 in the workplace.

The government offers guidance on working on or in vehicles which is regularly updated. It is worth checking this as the coronavirus crisis continues.

The HSE also offer specific advice on controlling coronavirus risks in workplaces. You can carry out your own risk assessments using these guides, but it’s not something that can be left to chance. We can help you with this if needed.

It’s important to get this right before employees return to work. You can make any changes required to help stop the spread of coronavirus as and when they are identified. You can then work with your staff, contractors and visitors to ensure that any measures you introduce are adhered to.

Covid-secure considerations for Motor Traders

Some specific things to watch out for in the motor trade are:

Ensuring social distancing

Make sure staff, visitors and customers have appropriate space for social distancing.

Cleaning vehicles

It’s more important than ever to wipe down any surfaces you work on. Before and after working on vehicles, make sure you clean:

  • Door handles (inside and out)
  • Switches
  • Seats
  • Mirrors
  • Pedals
  • The handbrake
  • Dashboard surfaces
  • Any other surfaces vehicle occupants will come into contact with

Engineering equipment inspections

The HSE still expects lifting and pressure equipment to be inspected and tested as usual. The safety of employees is paramount, so maintaining regular equipment inspections for hydraulic equipment, ramps etc. is still an HSE requirement.

Unaccompanied test drives

Unattended test drives are now permitted by the DVLA where trade plates are fitted to vehicles. This ensures the safety of dealers and drivers – but it does require specific insurance. Speak to us about unaccompanied demonstration cover.

What are the consequences of not creating a Covid-secure workplace?

Businesses can be inspected by the HSE at any time to ensure that they are ‘Covid-secure.’ Failure to comply with the guidelines has consequences for your business, its employees, and society at large.

For this reason, the HSE can suspend work or issue improvement notices where they have evidence that employers are not following the stated guidance, as well as issuing fines to businesses.

The last thing you need is for an employee, contractor or visitor to contract coronavirus while in your workplace. There is the possibility of employers’ liability claims if your business fails in its duty of care to staff, as well as claims from members of the public. All of this could be damaging to the reputation of your motor trade business.

And, of course, this is a disease with deadly consequences for many people. That’s why everything possible should be done to stop it spreading.

Help to make your workplace Covid-secure

Motor traders are rarely health and safety experts. We understand that.

Your job is to look after your customers. Our job, as your insurance broker, is to look after you.

To help you create a ‘Covid-secure’ workplace, we can provide you with:

  • A user-friendly staff handbook – Coronavirus: Stay Alert to Stay Safe – which addresses the key points you need to consider and engage with staff to create a ‘Covid-secure’ environment. This template can be changed to meet the needs of your business, offering assurance to your employees.
  • A Covid-19 Risk Assessment template, designed to address the unique circumstances in your business. You can follow this guide to carry out your own risk assessment, including any of the following which apply to you:
    • Control measures to prevent Covid-19 virus transmission
    • A 31-point assessment of the business’ vulnerability/susceptibility to the virus, and operational risks identified
    • Covid-related fire, legionella, and first aid risks
    • Communications to staff, including vulnerable people
    • Inspection and maintenance of lifting equipment and pressure systems
    • Additional hazards identified
  • A pack of 6 NHS posters that can be printed and put up in relevant locations in the workplace.

All this information can help you to carry out your own risk assessments and keep your motor trade premises ‘Covid-secure.’

However, if you want to get assistance from fully qualified risk management professionals, we are here to help.

Our specialist Risk Management team can carry out bespoke ‘Covid-secure’ risk assessments. This can minimise the threat of coronavirus spreading in your motor trade business.

They will work with you and your employees to help you manage coronavirus health and safety in your business. This includes:

  • Assessment of the risks involved
  • Addressing how those risks can be mitigated
  • Assistance with planning, preparation and implementation of return to work measures

Request help with your Covid-secure risk assessment

You can speak to one of Bollington’s expert risk management team for help and advice.

There’s no obligation for us to carry out a risk assessment – you can carry out your own following government guidelines, HSE advice, and our handy guides. However, getting professional advice could give you extra peace of mind that your workplace is ‘Covid-secure’. If you haven’t reopened yet, it could also help you get back on track more quickly.

Give us a call on 0161 929 1851 and speak to our Risk Management team about how Bollington can help you.