Collision repair

New Zealand’s collision repair industry is a thriving sector. It is also one with a variety of risks that may need to be managed.

What are the risks?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), every business has a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, and that others are not put at risk by the work of the business (for example, customers, visitors, children and young people, or the general public).

First, you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

The following are examples of only some of the health and safety risks for people in the vehicle repair sector. We also provide general guidance on how to manage your work health and safety risks.

Machinery in collision repair workshops including welding machines and vehicle hoists can create risks for workers if used incorrectly.

How are workers and others harmed?

People could be harmed from:

  • vehicle hoists collapsing.
  • welding fumes.
  • workers not being trained on how to use machinery and equipment correctly.
  • not wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. This might mean doing a job differently or making sure you have the right equipment for the job. Here are some examples:

  • Make sure vehicle hoists are regularly checked and maintained.
  • All workers should be trained in the safe operation of all machinery and equipment.
  • Welding should only be carried out in a well-ventilated area. Local exhaust ventilation may be required.
  • Provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure they have been trained how to properly use it.
  • Regularly maintain machinery, equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) (for example, ventilation in spray booths).

Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks, and when choosing solutions. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good choices if they’ve been involved in the conversation. Workers are the eyes and ears of your business. They could suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Workers are at risk from breathing in dust particles from panel and vehicle sanding.

How are workers and others harmed?

Using tools that aren’t fitted with a dust extraction device can lead to workers and the public being exposed to dust particles that can cause lung disease.

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. This might mean doing a job differently or making sure you have the right equipment for the job. Here are some examples:

  • Only use tools equipped with a dust extraction device.
  • Set up an area for sanding away from other workers and communal areas.
  • Provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure they have been trained how to properly use it.

Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks, and when choosing solutions. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good choices if they’ve been involved in the conversation. Workers are the eyes and ears of your business. They could suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

 

Collision repair shops can be noisy places to work and visit. Constant exposure to noise from tools and machinery can put workers’ hearing at risk of permanent damage.

How are workers and others harmed?

Loud machines and work tools can affect a workers’ hearing. Hearing loss can also result from sudden loud noises, heavy loads being dropped, or heavy hammering. These types of noises are referred to as ‘impact’ noises and, if loud enough, can cause immediate and permanent damage.

If you are working within a metre of someone and you have to shout to be heard, then it’s likely that the noise level is excessive.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Reduce noise at the source – look at ways of quietening noisy machinery or equipment.
  • Stop the noise from affecting everyone – move noisy machinery away from other workers or put up a barrier to minimise the noise.
  • Reduce the time workers are exposed to noisy environments or tasks – where possible swap workers between noisy and quiet jobs so that no one is exposed to noise for too long.
  • Wear personal hearing protection – if noise exposure is still excessive after addressing the above control measures then individual protection like ear muffs or ear plugs should be worn.

Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks, and when choosing solutions. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good choices if they’ve been involved in the conversation. Workers are the eyes and ears of your business. They could suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

For more information, see our full noise guidance.

Collision repair shops are at risk of fires and explosions from the ignition of flammable gases and vapours. Spray booths require regular servicing and filter replacement to control the build-up of combustible residues on filters and fan blades.

How are workers and others affected?

Workers and visitors can be severely harmed by explosions and fires.

What can you do?

First you must eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. This might mean doing a job differently or making sure you have the right equipment for the job. Here are some examples:

  • Have clear NO SMOKING signs throughout the workplace.
  • Make sure light fittings and electrical sources and equipment are regularly checked and maintained.
  • Carry out welding and grinding activities away from hazardous atmosphere zones.
  • Store all hazardous substances safely, and in accordance with the relevant hazardous substances regulations.
  • Train workers in the use of fire extinguishers and make sure they are serviced regularly.
  • Make sure emergency procedures are prominently displayed and practiced regularly.

Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks, and when choosing solutions. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good choices if they’ve been involved in the conversation. Workers are the eyes and ears of your business. They could suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

You can also find out which controls apply to your hazardous substance by searching for it in the Hazardous Substances Calculator(external link)

Moving vehicles and machinery are risky – a good traffic management plan keeps everyone safer.

How are workers and others affected?

People could be harmed by:

  • being trapped between a vehicle and a structure
  • vehicles colliding with each other or a structure
  • being hit by a vehicle
  • items that fall off vehicles (unsecured or unstable loads)
  • falling from a vehicle.

Other things to take into account include:

  • drivers/operators/pedestrians affected by drugs, alcohol or fatigue.
  • drivers/operators/pedestrians affected by medical events (for example, heart attacks).
  • environmental conditions (for example, slippery or unstable ground, low light, fog).
  • mechanical failure (for example, faulty steering or bad brakes).
  • driver distractions (for example, cell phones, noise, work pressures, home pressures).
  • vehicles operated outside their limits or capabilities – the wrong vehicle for the job.
  • anything that might block the drivers’ view.

When a person is hit by a truck or other construction vehicle or equipment, or a vehicle or equipment hits something else, the consequences can be severe for the person and for the business. For example:

  • The person may suffer crush injuries or fractures, or die.
  • A business may have to deal with property damage, reputational damage, service disruption, and increased insurance costs.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk. Here are some examples:

  • Isolate vehicles and plant from people working on the site.
  • Ensure reversing warning devices (for example, sounds or lights) are working
  • Turn on hazard lights if the vehicle is a temporary hazard.
  • Use spotters or dedicated traffic controllers to manage traffic and pedestrian movements.
  • Provide adequate lighting on site so drivers, workers and others can see what they are doing and can also be seen by others.
  • Encourage drivers visiting a site for the first time to walk the route and plan how they will move their vehicle around the site.
  • Consider having a policy and process for drug and alcohol screening /testing. See Drugs, alcohol and work on the Employment New Zealand website.
  • To minimise driver fatigue, manage when and how long drivers work.
  • Collaborate with other businesses on site to coordinate vehicle movements.
  • Where you can, have a one-way system to reduce the need for vehicles to reverse on site.
  • Provide warning signs at all entrances and exits to the site.
  • Ensure workers wear high visibility clothing.

Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks, and when choosing solutions. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good choices if they’ve been involved in the conversation. Workers are the eyes and ears of your business. They could suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.

You need to select the most effective control measures that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.

Compressed air systems are a risk if equipment is used incorrectly.

How are workers and others harmed?

Workers and others could be harmed by:

  • Compressed air can break through skin and cause minor injuries, but if the air enters into the bloodstream, and travels to the brain or heart, stroke or heart attack symptoms can occur.
  • Blowing air from a compressed air system into your mouth can cause ruptures in the lungs or stomach.

What can you do?

First you must always eliminate the risk where you’re reasonably able to. Where you’re not reasonably able to, then you need to consider what you can do to minimise the risk.

Here are some examples:

  • Train workers in the safe use of the equipment.
  • Ensure equipment is well maintained and pressure gauges are accurate.
  • Make sure all equipment is securely locked away whenever the petrol station is unattended.

Always ask workers for input on identifying health and safety risks, and when choosing solutions. People are more likely to take responsibility and make good choices if they’ve been involved in the conversation. Workers are the eyes and ears of your business. They could suggest practical, cost-effective solutions.

You need to select the most effective controls that are proportionate to the risk, and appropriate to your work situation.