Topics explained – Automotive – Service pits in automotive workshops

Hazards and risks

The hazards of working in or around vehicle service pits can include:

  • falls into an unguarded or uncovered pit
  • asphyxiation due to fuel vapours and other chemicals
    • poor ventilation in service pits can allow hazardous atmospheres to develop
    • fuel vapours from vehicles and gaseous by-products of combustion settling in low areas, such as vehicle service pits
  • explosion or fire.

Safety solutions

Risk control measures should be based on fall prevention, ventilation and fire safety. Safety solutions may include:

  • using multi-purpose hoists and elevated ramps for overhead work, rather than the conventional service pit
  • painting the pit interior white and outline the edges for at least 600mm in a conspicuous colour (e.g. safety yellow)
  • installing sectionalised guard railing designed to fit into prepared floor sockets, or suspend chain barriers from removable steel uprights to prevent people walking into open pits
  • covering pits when not in use with either traditional hardwood covers, or the better solution of heavy interlocked steel plates designed to run through guide rails (much like a roller shutter)
  • using ventilation systems with vents in the side walls of the pit to vent vapours and fumes
  • ensuring all portable or permanent lighting and/or electrical equipment within the hazardous zone of the pit is intrinsically safe
  • safely draining a petrol tank or service LPG-powered vehicles – never do this over or next to a service pit
  • avoiding work involving welding or oxy cutting inside or adjacent to service pits.

Further information