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Last Updated: 21 December 2020
Keeping Your Garage Workshop Covid Safe
Its fair to say that 2020 has been a tough year all round not just within the Motor Vehicle Repair Industry but across the board, the global pandemic is threatening the livlihoods of a wide range of business sectors and as such following a strict set of govenmental guidelines that are designed to keep your garages customers and staff safe and well.
This article has been written from information compiled by the Garage Equipment Association (GEA) , Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF), the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), Scottish Motor Trade Association (SMTA).
(Question?) Does My Garage need to conduct a Covid 19 based risk assesment.
(Answer) Yes but dont be frightened of undertaking a risk assesment it really is not as complex as one might think, whetether we realise it or not we conduct risk assesments each and every day. in simple terms you should seek to identify people who may be at risk i.e. Staff Custokmers or anyone else who has cause to come into direct contact with your company or its work activities such as parts suppliers, postal workers and so on, try to identify how they could be put at risk for instance small reception areas where it is not possible to maintain a 2 metre distance between customers and staff, staff canteens, designated smoking areas, customers vehicles or anywhere in the building where the treansmission of the virus is likely to occur.
Once you have identified people at risk then the next step is to look into what measures need to be put into place to adquately protect them from contracting the virus such as relevant PPE, perspex desk seperating screens and thorough decontamination of customer vehicles prior to handover.
When you sit down and think it through completing a satisfactory risk assesment is not difficult and will go along way to proving that you remained diligent at all times should a member of your team contract covid at work as of yet there has not been a case of a garage owner being prosecuted for not adhering to the guidance but that does not mean it wont happen if you are found to be negligent or severley lacking in your approach.
What are the Objectives of These Covid 19 Guidelines
To promote a safe & responsible workplace environment for employees & customers when working at or visiting your motor repair garage.
- To educate & provide clear and concise reasons & reassurance to existing staff and customers that appropriate steps have been taken to maintain a clean and safe environment and why they have to be strictly adhered to.
- To clearly demonstrate to Government and other regulatory bodies that the motor vehicle repair industry is well prepared for any changes to pre-existing coronavirus safety measures & guidelines.
- To Secure Government and third party support for the approach.
- To ensure that all staff have been thoroughly briefed with regards to the findings of the company risk assesment & are made fully aware of the possible symptoms of Covid 19 and the steps that must be taken in the event of a positive Covid test.
- To ensure that motor vehicle repair workshops undertake a comprehensive risk assesment and implement any required safety measures that can help to reduce the possibility of the vbirus being transmitted to staff or customers.
- To effectively evaluate which members of your staff are deemed to be safe to return to their daily work activities extra care should be taken to protect any elderly members of the team or people who have pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma or any form of lung disease. any employee that could be classed as high risk should be allowed to work from home where possible.
- To provide clear & concise information both online and in a physical form i.e (Tool Box Talks & Prominently Displayed Posters) for all clients and work associates to digest remember clear communication is important.
- To provide a set list of protocols for staff & Clients clearly outlining what they can expect when using your services and ensuring that your staff members are adequately trained well in advance where required so they can properly assist your business in implementing the new measures that have been put in place.
- To ensure that protocols for suppliers & deliveries are implemented to protect tyhem and yopur staff and customers such as a designated drop off spot for deliveries that help to maintain safe distancing measures.
- To implement a strict policy and process on how to deal with employess and customers who show the common symptoms of Covid 19 in the workplace.
- To provide clear and adequate information on how you intend to shield vulnerable technicians or customers such as working from home or in a seperated part of the building where working from home is not possible or simply collecting a customers car from their home.
Proper Communication/Education to Clients & Employees
Please ensure that you print out & prominently display the current government guidelines (Staying COVID-19 Secure in 2020) to clearly demonstrate to staff and your garages customers that you have studied, understood and implemented all of the required precautions as set out in govermental guidelines.
- Ensure that your customers, garage technicians & visitors understand the importance of clear communication.
- Ensure that all work associates are fully briefed ahead of any new procedures being implemented.
- Garage ownwers are to provide appropriate and upto date training provided to all staff members upon reopening/re-joining or as and when government guidance changes.
- Garage owners should ensure that all Covid 19 appropriate signage and posters are clearly displayed to remind customers to observe and respect social distancing measures.
- That adequate area markers in put in place where required, to direct customers and colleagues on where to go and to maintain the required 2 metre spacing.
- That all designated hand sanitising areas are clearly displayed and feature and that information regarding their safe use is prominent.
Social Distancing Measures
This is a list of how to effectively ensure that social distancing measures can be implemented & maintained minimising close physical contact is one of the best ways to ensure that your business remains Covid free. As a company you must provide clear guidance to both clients and customers a greeat way to achieve this is to take a comprehensive approach to effectively display (High Impact Visibility) signs, floor markers and informational posters that outline the importance of maintaining a 2 metre distance form other people wherever possible.
If possible you should introduce a one-way system that will allow safe access and egress for staff members and members of the public.
- Ideally all customers and visitors should be by appointment only but where this is not possible procedures should be put in place to effectively manage walk-in customers or visitors such as no more that 3 people in the shop at a time never allow more people into the building than can not be kept 2 metres apart.
- Provide guidance and instruction on meeting & greeting customers staff or suppliers remember think zero contact.
- At all times motor repair workshops are required to maintain a 2 metre distance throughout the entirity of operations where this is not possible, consider what additional steps need to be taken such a PPE or working from home to reduce congestion within the workplace.
- Face to face interactions should wherever possible involve small groups (only two people) crowded meeting rooms are off limits for now.
- When considering how to effectively manage your garage workshop for social distancing there are a number of precautions that can be taken such as flexible working hours, drop box for customers keys and paperwork only one operative per designated work bay at all times.
- Clearly display floor markings within the workshop and office areas carfully consider the layout of these areas and wherever possible avoid face to face configurations, desk and equipment sharing the latter not being such a problem for mechanics because they are my tools and no you can not borrow them.
- When carrying out mobile operations carefull consider conducting a pre arrival site assesment and inform the customer prior to arrival of any additional measures that have been implemented to adequately protect the motor vehicle technician and the customer.
- When working on customer vehicles ensure that only one person enters the vehicle i.e the operative who repairs the vehicle should also be the one to complete the test drive and to sanitise the veheicle prior to handing over to the customer, this will help to minimise the risks associated with cross contamunation.
- Rest rooms and other communal areas should have all reading materials removed and be regularly decontaminated any vending machines in toilets should not be used place an out of order sign on them.
- Any areas where social distancing measures cannot be implemented such as children’s play areas, small reception areas, staff canteens canteens and designated smoking enclosures should be temporarily withdrawn from service.
Sanitisation and Hygiene
You should ensure that all staff working in the building have been thoroughly briefed with regards to hygiene measures that have been implemented in association with your companies risk assesment it is absolutely essential that all visitors are following these extra hygiene precautions and that equipment and vehicles are properly decontaminated prior to any other person coming into contact with them.
All business facilities such as work or kitchen surfaces, picking equipment, payment devices, computers, door handles, tools, intercoms and so on think it through if people touch it clean it.
- Ensure that hand sanitising stations are available for desks, work stations, service area, waiting area, toilets, vehicles, equipment, picking stations.
- You should provide liquid soaps and disposable paper towels and temporarily remove electric hand dryers from use.
- Put in place procedures that ensure the regular cleaning and disinfecting of tools and equipment both prior and after use.
- Upon completion of works to customer vehicles one should undertake a thorough decontamination of all contact surfaces within the vehicles interior you should also consider adopting the use of disposable protective sets for the seat, steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake lever.
- Improved ventilation of premises and vehicles a simple but effective way of minimising Covid associated risks is to leave bay doors and vehicle doors open to ensure adequate ventilation.
Use of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE)
Government guidance on the use of PPE states that workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside of clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it.
Any PPE provided to your employees or visitors must fit properly.
- Consider what, if any, appropriate PPE and materials are to be made available to all colleagues and/or customers as required.
- Customers and colleagues to be provided with, and advised of appropriate use, of equipment and sanitisation products when undertaking a delivery or collection.
- Provision of appropriate PPE to staff if social distancing measures cannot be maintained.
- Consider utilisation of clear glass/Perspex screens between colleagues if appropriate (NB if social distancing measures cannot be maintained).
- Consider temperature checks for employees prior to the start of work.
- Disposable covers are provided in garage workshops.
Digital & Other Additional Mechanisms
During this dificult time you should seek tyo maximise your online presence and express to potential and existing customer the consumer experience being offered by your business.
- Visits to the workshop wherever possible should be by appointment only incoming deliveries shoud aslo be arranged to ensure the bare minimum of exchanges and interactions.
- Removal from desk tops and waiting areas all physical material such as flyers, magazines, newspapers, etc.
- Utilisation of live (e.g. pre-visit video calls) and recorded video technology for delivery, vehicle movement/exchange and interaction instructions and expectations.
- Arrange to collect and deliver vehicles on behalf of your clients as this acan be a great way to minimise the risk of the virus being transmitted to your staff.
- Try to avoid taking cash payments and instead consider putting in place measures to take payment from your customers electronically such as a credit/debit card or bank transfer.
- Digital transactions without signatures and paperwork wherever possible.
- Assess workforce rotas and shifts (pairing system if appropriate) to limit interaction.
Be mindful of the differing needs of your workforce and consider any measures that may need to be put in place to support certain individuals to help prevent accidental discrimination, i.e. reasonable and necessary adjustments for disabled workers.
UK Based Covid 19 Links for Further Information
Listed here are a bunch of usefull links that can help you to achieve a clear and comprehensive understanding of what your business needs to do to remain compliant with current Covid 19 regulation and reccomendation.
Public Health England (PHE): https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-healthengland
- Health & Safety Executive (HSE): https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm?utm_source=hse.gov.uk&utm_medium=reffe ral&utm_campaign=coronavirus&utm_content=home-page-banner
- SMMT: https://www.smmt.co.uk/industry-topics/covid-19-automotive-business-support/
- Garage Equipment Association https://www.gea.co.uk/
- IAAF: https://www.iaaf.co.uk/
- IMI: https://www.theimi.org.uk/covid
- SMTA: https://www.smta.co.uk/
Links to Government Guidance on COVID-19 and Workplaces
- Advice on working safely during Covid-19 https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safelyduring-coronavirus-covid-19
- HSE Guidance - ‘How to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment’ https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/assessment.htm#
- Covid-19: guidance for employees, employers and businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-aboutcovid-19
- Coronavirus (Covid-19): guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronaviruscovid-19-list-of-guidance
- COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings (If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of COVID-19 then refer to the specific guidance)
- People who are shielding: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-athigher-risk-from-coronavirus/if-youre-at-very-high-risk-from-coronavirus/
- Respiratory hygiene: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/wuhan-novelcoronavirus-infection-prevention-andcontrol">
- Vulnerable people: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higherrisk-from-coronavirus/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/