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Preparing for PAS 43 Vehicle Inspections

09 April 2021
PAS 43 – A specification for the Recovery Industry for the provision of quality service to your customers and for the safety of all. 

The recovery industry has inherent risks to the safety of those broken down, to the Recovery Technicians themselves, to the emergency services and to other road users. One of the key objectives of the PAS 43 is to plan to ensure that everyone gets home safely every night and after every shift.

One of the key components of your annual PAS 43 assessment with NQA is your vehicle inspection. Certification requires all vehicles on the active fleet to be checked at each inspection (or where certification is held jointly with ISO 9001, one third of the active fleet is checked ensuring full coverage over the 3 year certification cycle).

Having systems in place that ensure you pass your inspection easily will not only make the annual event less stressful but will help promote awareness and a good culture of safety amongst your workforce all year round. You Inspector will be checking the vehicles for functionality of lights, beacons and conspicuity so they can be easily seen in dark conditions, functionality of the emergency stops on the on-board equipment and for the carrying of a defined inventory of tools and their condition.

Annex B of PAS 43 provides a reference for equipment to be carried for different vehicle types – prepare an inventory based on this for each class of vehicle in the fleet. It’s a good idea to get Technicians to check against this list regularly – particularly when vehicles are shared and not dedicated to a single Driver.

Housekeeping is important – there should be no loose items in the vehicle cabs.  Equipment in lockers should be neat and tidy and easily retrieved to save time at the roadside – every minute counts!

From many years of undertaking these Inspections I have compiled a list of some of the common issues identified across the industry to help everyone work towards a fully compliant fleet and one which promotes maximum safety for your workforce:

  1. Verify regularly that emergency stops actually work – particularly those located behind the wheel arches and which are prone to seizing if not operated regularly;

  2. The safety clips on winches, cranes and snatch-block hooks can easily be damaged and should be inspected and replaced if not fully operational.  Ensure snatch blocks have their R- Clips fitted;

  3. Review the condition of winch cables and ensure that safe working loads are clearly marked;

  4. Check First Aid Kits and the dates on eyewash bottles for expiry;

  5. Make sure that torches are available in the cabs and have working batteries or are charged-up;

  6. Ensure that Charge Packs themselves are fully charged-up;

  7. The storage of road cones should ideally be accessible from the vehicles nearside – we should not have to enter a live running lane to access the cones that we need to make the work area as safe as possible;

  8. Ensure that vehicles over 3M high or those that can be loaded to height of over 3M with a casualty vehicle have either a height staff available or some other means of measuring the overall height and an adjustable height display in the cab;

Vehicles selected for inspection will also have the fleet files examined for MOT test status, safety inspections, weighbridge certificates, thorough Examination certificates for fitted and carried equipment and any other necessary maintenance and calibration checks. It’s a good idea to make sure that files and are in order prior to the day of the inspection to help things run smoothly.

Keeping a clean, tidy and compliant fleet is central to ensuring the safety of everyone involved and will promote a culture of pride in your business.

With the current emergency measures in place for control of Covid-19, scheme rules for vehicle inspections have recently been amended to allow remote inspection of recovery vehicles to take place where a site visit is not appropriate. Remote inspections can also be useful as a vehicle does not have to be at base potentially making less impact on operational schedules and saving you time and fuel.

In these cases, streaming video on a Smartphone is used and we are finding this approach generally works very well.  It’s a good idea to have one person using the video whilst another demonstrates the vehicle’s tools and equipment. The process is dependent upon the strength of the phone signal or Wifi so prepare by understanding if there are any blackspots in your yard or garage and plan the inspections to avoid any frustration with dropping signal – if possible. Also streaming video is very heavy on phone batteries so make sure your phone is fully charged or have additional power available for it.

As Assessors and Inspectors we have the utmost respect for everyone in the Recovery Industry – It’s dangerous and challenging work which requires the best tools, equipment and focus on maintenance and PAS 43 is here to help in driving this culture – we look forward to working with you and hope that with this information, you can prepare and use the inspection process to your benefit and will enjoy demonstrating to us the fleet that you are so proud of…

To find out more about PAS 43 and get a quote for certification click here.

Authored by Nigel Turner, NQA Regional Assessor