Environmental Health Officers at Peterborough City Council in Cambridgeshire, have launched a national pilot scheme to increase safety measures in HGV vehicle workshops. The work has, until now, been carried out as part of the duties of Health and Safety Executive inspectors. But if all goes well in this part of East Anglia, many other councils throughout the United Kingdom are expected to follow.
Environmental health officer Katherine Evans is behind the project which emerged from a working group made up of representatives from Peterborough City Council, the HSE, the HSE’s partnership and the Local Authority Group. She said: “We already managed health and safety issues in tyre and exhaust outlets, so it seemed logical for us to cover the whole motor vehicle repair sector to avoid duplication. It also provides an opportunity for our team to widen its professional experience.
“The motor vehicle repair trade is dominated by mostly small workshops, but nationally they report about 3,000 injuries and cases of ill health annually. These are mostly caused by lifting heavy objects, slips and trips, falls and moving vehicles around the workshop.”
She added: “There is a high incidence of occupational asthma caused by isocyante spray paints used in body repair shops.”
Pinpointing motor vehicle repair shops, the scheme is also including dry cleaning and launderette businesses. A spokesman for the Health and Safety Commission said it will evaluate the success of the pilot scheme before becoming a blueprint nationally for local authorities.
Now at the early stages of the project, the officers, which have been shadowing HSE colleagues, have sent questionnaires and leaflets to 200 motor vehicle repair sites and are planning to start inspecting the premises soon.