Working with machinery is a hazardous task, regardless of the setting. For mechanics working in garages the risks are even higher, required to assess moving parts as they operate and work underneath heavy vehicles hoisted by jacks, ramps or axle stands.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is any type of purpose-built gear to protect people from hazards, usually in the workplace. In this guide we’ll outline the PPE any mechanic should be wearing in the workshop environment.
Firstly, we’ll outline the rules for employers regarding PPE in any industry. As a general rule of thumb, protective equipment should be:
- Provided free of charge
- Appropriate to relevant risks
- Chosen in consultation with the user – and used correctly
- Subject to regular inspection, maintenance, and review
- Certified as compliant (CE marked)
The PPE needed most in a workshop includes, but is not limited to:
Unfortunately, the risk of being crushed comes paired with the risk of falling objects. According to research figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 12% of all fatal workplace injuries last year were due to the victim being struck by a moving or falling object.
Not only could hard hats prevent a serious head injury potentially caused by working under a vehicle, but the lethal risk of falling objects will be reduced.
Skin contact should be limited when it comes to chemicals used in motoring. Engine oil, coolant, fuel additives and hydraulic fluids all pose a risk to health, being corrosive and irritant.
As well as the standard blue overalls, all mechanics should be issued with a pair of protective work gloves to shield their skin from the harsh chemicals handled in a workshop.
Enforcing safety shoes
Accidents happen, and it’s not uncommon for heavy items to be dropped in a workshop. Sturdy boots with steel toe caps are essential in the motoring industry, not only to protect against impact but to repel flammable liquids including petrol and to serve as a barrier against heat.
Engine noise combined with the use of pneumatic tools including air saws make vehicle repair and construction work incredibly loud. HSE guidance warns that exposures above 85 decibels could cause irreversible damage, and any employer has a duty to provide and wear hearing protection in this case.
Sparks, shrapnel, and harsh chemicals could all be caused to travel towards a mechanic’s face. For this reason, it’s essential for employers to provide safety glasses or goggles.
The risks of working in a garage should never be underestimated, and PPE should be worn to ensure the safety – and lives – of mechanics.