During vehicle repair:
- make sure brakes are applied and wheels chocked;
- always prop raised bodies. Do not rely on hydraulic systems for support;
- start and run engines with brakes on and in neutral gear;
- never work under vehicles supported on jacks alone – always use axle stands;
- beware of the explosion risk when draining and repairing fuel tanks;
- avoid burns from battery short circuits by disconnecting the battery before starting work;
- older brake linings may also contain asbestos. Never 'blow out' brakes, always use a vacuum or other dust-free method. Do not use asbestos brake lining as a replacement.
Serious accidents, including fatalities, have been caused by unsafe practices during wheel/tyre changing and when inflating tyres. When using jacks to lift or support vehicles or machines:
- use the correct jack for the job, capable of supporting the load imposed on it;
- use the correct jacking point, as identified on the machine or in the operator’s manual;
- position axle stands to give additional support;
- chock the other wheels to prevent movement;
- carry out the work on firm, level ground.
Tyre/wheel repair and replacement should only be tackled by competent staff. Take extra care with split-rim wheels as these present additional hazards. Although they are becoming less common, you may find them on older vehicles such as forklift trucks, loading shovels and former military vehicles. If in doubt seek help from a specialist.
Don’t use ‘unrestricted’ airlines (without a gauge or pressure control device) or valve connectors that require the operator to hold them in place when inflating tyres. Tyres can explode if they are not inflated safely. Use airline hoses long enough to allow the operator to stay outside the likely explosion path during inflation. Wheel cages and similar devices can help reduce the risk of injury.
The average size of wheels and tyres has increased significantly, which creates a greater risk of manual handling injuries because they are heavier and more difficult to hold and manoeuvre. Changing large tractor wheels can be made easier with an appropriate mechanical handling trolley.
Repairs in the field
Recovering or repairing vehicles and machines in the field can introduce new hazards and create additional risks. In some circumstances, it may be safer to attempt the repair in the workshop rather than in the field.
Where you have to carry out repairs or maintenance in the field, eg where a machine has broken down, it is important to make sure that you assess all risks properly before tackling the job. Factors to consider may include:
- the impact of adverse weather conditions such as wind or rain;
- poor lighting, eg at dusk;
- ground conditions, eg wet or soft surfaces;
- the location of OHPLs;
- the need to ensure safety for access or work at height, eg on combines.