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Govt to pilot car wash accreditation to stamp out slavery

UK hand car wash businesses that prevent worker exploitation will be able to display a “responsible car wash operator” logo on their premises as part of the government’s efforts to crack down on modern slavery in the industry.


The Responsible Car Wash Scheme is a collaboration between the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), the Health and Safety Executive, the Car Wash Association and other government agencies.

It has been developed to eradicate forced labour at some of the 20,000 hand car washes estimated to operate in the UK. Though many are legitimate businesses, some trap workers in modern-day slavery and violate workplace safety and health and environmental regulations. 

Car wash operators that sign up to the scheme and pass an accreditation audit will be expected to follow guidance on industry best practice and display the logo, which customers will associate with businesses that look after their workers and trade legally. 

The scheme was launched last week at the House of Lords and will be piloted across the Midlands in November. 

Darryl Dixon from the GLAA said: “We have seen numerous problems across this industry, from modern day slavery, debt bondage, failure to pay proper wages, through to workers not being provided with any appropriate or personal protective equipment. 

“Whilst enforcement is crucial, education is also essential to both operators, so that they can ensure they operate legally, [and] consumers, so they can make the simple decision of using a legal operator or not. This scheme is a big step forward in addressing these issues.”

IOSH said the scheme is a positive step towards tackling labour abuse and has urged other industries to follow suit. 

Richard Jones, the institution’s head of policy and public affairs, said: “This new logo pilot scheme is a positive step and we will be monitoring its progress with interest. Many hand car washes are responsible businesses that protect workers and the environment, and they will be highlighted by this. At the same time, those car washes which don’t comply will be encouraged to do so.

“We would like to see other industries learn lessons from this scheme. 

Earlier this year a new smartphone app was made available for motorists to report signs of modern slavery at hand car washes.  

Safe Car Wash asks drivers questions about signs of modern slavery, personal protective equipment, workers’ behaviour and the cost of the service. Based on their answers, users may be prompted to call the Modern Slavery Helpline.



Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine


  • I can't believe it has t

    Permalink Submitted by Ali Sooltan on 3 May 2019 - 02:02 pm

    I can't believe it has taken this long to recognise this apparently recent phenomenon ! I raised this over 7 yrs ago in an article to the CIEH journal (I am both CMIOSH and CMCIEH). This had resulted from a cursory visual "inspection" whilst using the car wash for the first time as a customer. I noted H&S risks from poor electrics, lack of PPE, slip/trip hazards, lack of coshh awareness, manual handling risk, work at height risk, poor welfare facilities etc..All this in the 30 min I was there. Why does it take so long for such issues to be recognised when so many of us use these services ?
    Ali Sooltan


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