The Health and Safety Executive’s plan of work for 2010/11 includes an inspection initiative targeted at the motor vehicle repair trade.

It comes after the publication of revised health and safety guidance for the industry. The guidance includes revisions that reflect changes in systems and procedures which have become accepted good practice over the last few years. All of the changes are supported by the trade organisations and suppliers to the industry.

Particularly significant are the standards expected where car and vehicle body work is spray painted and where isocyanate paints are used. Here the changes have been agreed with industry stakeholders and have been publicised over the last three years at a series of awareness events.

The Executive is using this work-stream to support a campaign by the European Committee of Senior Labour Inspectors (SLIC) on risks from hazardous substances used by small and medium employers. Because the HSE standards on health and safety in motor vehicle repair are being promoted as the standard to be achieved throughout Europe it is seen as important for the UK to fully and actively participate in the campaign.

The prime target of inspectors’ visits is likely to be control of isocyanate based paints during vehicle spraying, but inspectors will also be considering the control of exposure to other hazardous substances such as exhaust fumes, used engine oils, solvents and glues. And you can be certain that they won’t be ignoring the other hazards present in motor vehicle repair shops.

If you are working in this sector you need to be aware that the work instruction issued to inspectors says that they should not overlook any opportunity for formal enforcement action.

Peninsula clients trading in this sector are advised to check that their safety management systems are robust and being followed in practice. General guidance can be found in your health and safety manual and guidance notes. If you are in any doubt as to your compliance, need further information or specific help call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2785 for assistance.