Figures recorded by HSE in the five years up to March 2022 show that 13 workers in the motor vehicle repair industry were killed when work took place under a vehicle that wasn’t properly supported.
Since April 2022, HSE has become aware of another four cases of workers being crushed to death by an incorrectly supported vehicle.
Official and anecdotal reports of a wide range of working practices gone wrong are leading to fears mechanics and enthusiasts are putting their lives in danger routinely.
HSE has guidance on working safely under motor vehicles being repaired and has also issued a safety alert for air suspension systems on vehicles.
Fiona McGarry, an HSE inspector who works with the motor vehicle repair trade, said: ‘One death is too many – to us, these tragedies could easily have been avoided, but they keep happening. Sadly, the phrase we hear too often is ‘this will only take me a minute’. It is crucial the correct equipment is used when working under vehicles.’
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. In total, 21 workers in the motor vehicle repair industry have been killed in the last five years – 13 of which were caused by work under a poorly supported vehicle.
Julian Woods, CEO of the Garage Equipment Association, said: ‘We consider health and safety to be of the upmost importance to our industry and any loss of life should be considered an unacceptable situation.
‘We drive to improve health and safety not only for our members but in the industry as a whole. It’s all too easy to think it will never happen to me or it will only take a second to sort, so skip safety items to get the job done quickly, but these statistics are unacceptable.
‘We all need to be thinking of not only ourselves but everybody’s health and safety. If we see an unsafe act we should raise it up and not just turn a blind eye and keep walking.’