Inspection Pits

Inspection pits are generally custom-made. Every client needs a different depth or length, according to their unique specifications. An installation team will typically dig the trench, after which the prefabricated areas are welded. The process takes more or less a week to completion. No legal requirements are in place for installing and utilizing an inspection pit. However, the responsibility falls on the car maintenance and repair agency to perform a risk assessment for the pit and include safeguards to avoid any of the following:
  • Anyone falling into the inspection pit.
  • Someone slipping on access steps.
  • Injuries sustained due to a car or other items falling onto an employee inside the pit.
  • Asphyxiation or fire from accumulation of vapours, gases, or fuel release.
  • Head injuries from bumping against the car that is over the pit.
When it comes to inspection pits and safety, encouraging safety through accreditation schemes and best practices is effective, as well as incorporating health and safety executive guidelines. Some pit installers recommend doing the following:
  • Painting chevrons around the pit on the floor as well as painting designated walkways at a safe distance from the pit.
  • Installing a full-length retractable cover that easily slides over the inspection pit when not in use. Since they are robust enough for supporting the weight of a person, they successfully discard a falling risk, however they are not always the best practical choice.
  • Instead of going under the car, instead, raise the car up. Floor-mounted columns can be installed to gain access under the car, especially where there is restricted access to it. They are also a safer option than pits due to petrol having a higher flash point.

Lights for inspection pits must be water and dust resistant as well as flameproof to avoid ignition.

Best practice advice

HSE provides guidance to workshop owners that involves the responsibilities of workshops that must be met with inspection pits.
  • Limiting Access – restrict access to individuals that must be there. Try to physically separate and change the workshop layout or utilizing supervision and signs to impose the rules.
  • Bridging The Pit – A movable bridge can be installed across the pit with a handrail which is open-sided to allow a safe platform for working.
  • Barriers – Using chains, rails, or extendible barriers to offer flexible protection for staff members close to the pit edge.
  • Enhancing Visibility – Using pit lights during working hours and visibly marking pit edges, for instance, painting yellow and black bands.
  • Lowering Trip And Slip Incidents – Using anti-slip material in the area surrounding the pit. Keeping the area free from clutter, and address spillages immediately.
  • Access – Providing at least a singular fixed exit/entry point with extra, dispersed, usable means to escape when required.
  • Prevention Of Asphyxiation And Fire - Vapours and fuel which are heavier than air, are inclined to sink to the bottom of the inspection pit and can pose an asphyxiation or fire hazard. Therefore, avoid hot work near or on any fuel line or fuel tank, including diesel systems. Makes sure portable LPG-fuelled equipment is stored at a safe distance from your pit an empty refrigerant prior to working on air conditioners. Welding should only be done in pits with efficient exhaust ventilation. Never leave cars idling over the pit.
  • Falling Objects – A useful guide is highlighting pit edges (about 150mm wide) for positioning cars or installing mirrors. Drivers must use a banksman whenever possible. All replaced or discarded vehicle parts must be removed. Never leave tools or other equipment around the pit apron.