Classic car restorers join calls warning of the dangers of working under vehicles

A Shropshire mechanic has backed calls for better health and safety in the motor trade after new figures show 21 workers in the industry have been killed in the last five years.

Tim Griffin of Classic Motor Cars
Tim Griffin of Classic Motor Cars

According to the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), more than half of the deaths in the motor vehicle repair industry were caused when work took place under a vehicle that wasn’t properly supported.

Figures recorded by the health and safety watchdog in the five years up to March 2022 show that 13 workers in the motor vehicle repair industry were killed while working under a car.

And since April 2022, the health and safety watchdog has become aware of another four cases of workers being crushed to death by an incorrectly supported vehicle.

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.”

Classic Motor Cars (CMC) in Bridgnorth, which restore vehicles in their own dedicated workshop, is supporting HSE’s call to the industry to challenge the “this will only take me a minute” culture.

Production and Engineering Director at CMC, Tim Griffin, said: “I am saddened but not surprised to hear of these tragedies.

“The situation could get worse as people and businesses may cut costs with higher energy bills.

“My plea is that it’s never a good time to cut corners – the stakes are too high.”

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.

“While our figures relate specifically to motor vehicle repair, work on vehicles happens across industries including transportation and agriculture,2 added Fiona McGarry from the HSE. "We all need to ensure work on vehicles is carried out safely, regardless of sector.

“We are becoming increasingly concerned about the scale of the issue. Failure to learn from near misses or injuries will risk lives.

“Some of these issues relate to smaller garages - places that are hard to reach. We have always had a strong relationship with the motor vehicle repair sector, and we respect the expertise of these small businesses.

“But as the issue has persisted, we needed to raise awareness of the issue together. It is therefore important CMC and the Garage Equipment Association are encouraging everyone who works on vehicles – at work, or at home – to check HSE’s guidance."

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