Introduction to safe motor vehicle repair

Motor vehicle repair work has particular dangers and if you are an employer or self-employed person you must identify and minimise the risks to both health and safety.

To help you achieve this, take the following precautions:

Safe work with vehicles

  • make sure vehicle brakes are applied and wheels are chocked
  • always start and run engines with the brakes on and in neutral gear
  • support vehicles on both jacks and axle stands, never rely on jacks alone
  • always support raised vehicle bodies with equipment or tools designed for the task
  • always ensure that vehicles elevated on lifting equipment are properly positioned and stable and that all arm locks (where provided) are fully engaged

Other risks in motor vehicle work

  • ensure paint sprayers who use 'two-pack' paints use air-fed respiratory equipment to protect them against isocyanate exposure, which can cause occupational asthma
  • beware of fire and explosion risks when draining and repairing fuel tanks, and from battery gases. Never drain petrol tanks near or over a pit
  • ensure you do not short-circuit batteries
  • use a tyre cage when inflating commercial tyres and stand away from the trajectory zone, particularly those with multi-piece or divided wheels as explosions do happen
  • brake and clutch pads on older cars may contain asbestos, so always use appropriate precautions
  • wear protective clothing when handling battery acid
  • be aware of the risk from mineral oil contamination (especially used engine oils) on hands and other parts of the body. Frequent and prolonged contact with used engine oil may cause dermatitis and other skin disorders, including skin cancer. Good personal hygiene at all times is essential and this includes making sure overalls are cleaned regularly

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Updated 2023-04-20