Coronavirus: Staying safe in and around motor vehicles

20 MARCH 2020

To say COVID-19 is impacting business would be understating the reality of the world we live in today, and into the future. At some point, we will start to see this crisis through the rear vision mirror however it’s important now more than ever to start thinking and preparing for the worst-case scenario and what the recovery looks like for you and your business.

There are some simple steps you can take to reassure your customers that their health and safety is front of mind when their vehicle is in for a service or repair. Promote that you are taking the necessary precautions for customers and staff and have the necessary policies and procedures in place to deal with COVID-19.

There is a wide range of useful information available from the Department of Health, WorkSafe, mental health service providers such as Beyond Blue and, of course, check out regular updates on the VACC website. To assist workshop managers and staff on the safest procedures when working in and around motor vehicles, VACC has prepared a downloadable information sheet

In addition, these simple measures will go a long way to ensure peace of mind and just maybe the new normal moving forward.

  • Regular cleaning and sanitising of workplace including reception area, waiting rooms, bathrooms and lunchrooms.
  • During an outbreak ensure your waiting rooms remain hygienic, remove magazines, and all other similar items that can be manually handled. You may need to think about closing waiting rooms during periods of outbreaks and offer pickup and drop off as an alternative.
  • Coffee/tea making facilities are kept clean, use of disposable cups highly recommended.
  • Disinfecting vehicles on pickup and delivery including wiping down of all contact points such as steering wheel, door handles, door switches, seats, infotainment, gear shift lever, etc.
  • Attention to detail is key here, cleaning keys with disinfectant prior to handing back to the customer will provide reassurance that you are on top of it. Have hand sanitisers available for staff and customers.
  • Where possible provide handwashing facilities for customers as well as employees.  
  • If available, use of seat, floor and steering wheel covers are used before work is undertaken.
  • Display general hygiene policies and instructions throughout the workplace including reception and waiting rooms.  
  • Monitor the health and safety of employees and take remedial action where necessary.
  • Have a contingency plan to ensure you can remain open during an outbreak. You may have to consider staggering shifts to limit risk of infection and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees and customers.  
  • A mixture of 70 percent methylated spirits and 30 percent water is a good substitute where normal disinfectant agents are in short supply, however this is not to be used on eating and drinking utensils, food contact surfaces and equipment.

Given the uncertainties in the current environment, if you are already experiencing financial difficulties and concerned about your obligations with meeting loan repayments it’s important that you engage your bank or broker early so that alternative solutions can be found.

For many business owners, recognising that your company faces a crisis is the first thing you must do. The unfamiliarity and uncertainty of this pandemic requires you, as leaders in your field, to relinquish the belief that a top-down response will result in stability. No one could have envisaged the outbreak of COVID-19, but it’s important that you set clear priorities for the response and empower others to discover and implement solutions that serve those priorities.

Announcements of government assistance packages are becoming frequent during this time. VACC will continue to advocate for better conditions and protections of its members and the automotive industry.

If you have any questions, contact:

T: 03 9829 1265

Industrial Relations
T: 03 9829 1123

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