This is probably THE most frequently asked question from potential clients. And a good one.
So we decided to do something that will help you.
First and foremost, your DVSA Examiner is there to help you stay compliant and safe. They’ll be looking for evidence that you not only understand what’s required but that you’re implementing too.
However, hours in the day have a habit of running out too quickly. They head through an invisible vortex in the corner of the office, and our good intentions along with them! And when we’re busy routines can easily slip. Before you know it, a visit is scheduled, and you’ve not been paying attention to what should be happening regularly.
It’s never an intentional situation, and we work with enough of you to understand that. But we also know there are no ‘get out clauses’. This stuff has to happen.
Why not use the following easy to read summary as a checklist to make sure you’re ready for the next DVSA visit:
Is your equipment in working order?
Let’s look at equipment first. Can you say, hand on heart, that all your equipment is in full working order and easy to access? This may sound simple, but you’ll be surprised how many times we visit a station and are met with the statement – “We were going to get that fixed – it was on our to-do list, we just haven’t got around to it yet”. Sadly, that won’t do.
You must have a maintenance system in place – one your staff are aware of – that sets out what they must do if equipment needs to be repaired or replaced – and what to do if equipment is not working, but a test needs to be completed.
Equipment calibration must also be evident and up to date with a detailed paper or electronic trail of actions taken in place. Where possible, mark the equipment to indicate if the equipment is in or out of calibration. But remember, marking it as ‘out of calibration’ does not negate the need to calibrate. An examiner will check if the equipment is being used out of calibration at the time of the assessment!
Can you demonstrate you’re ‘in control’?
You need to have adequate systems in place that ensure MOT testers only conduct testing under the authority of the AEDM. Everything MUST be honest and above board with no conflict of interest. Ideally, there should be a distinct separation between MOT testing and repairs.
If you’re a smaller operation, this can be straightforward and easy to check. If, however, you have a large testing station with a high number of testers, it can be a little harder to manage. But it’s not impossible if you have adequate procedures in place.
What assessors are expecting to see is the co-ordination of your booking-in system and the logging of tests on MTS. The systems you have in place need to demonstrate you have considered handover procedures along with the completion and retention of any test documentation.
DVSA Assessors are also looking for is proof you are in control of MOT testing – and that there is no interference from outside sources, including management.
In most cases, the AEDM or an alternative such as a site manager can show that they have control of MOT testing – with no external influences. If these measures are not able to be actioned, it could throw a level of doubt as to whether there are adequate controls.
Do you have adequate checks in place for quality controls?
Each VTS should have a system of quality checks, and this is expected to be demonstrated during a DVSA visit. It could be that you have a designated Quality Control officer (usually the most experienced). This can be a full-time responsibility alongside other duties or can be a rotating responsibility amongst your team.
As a guide, each tester would ordinarily be checked once every two months. But each station’s needs and circumstances are different. For example, if you’re a rural ‘one tester’ garage, the above equation wouldn’t work for you. In this circumstance, the AEDM would be expected to put alternative controls in place to minimise any risk to the quality you deliver. This could be in the form of additional training.
Remember that the DVSA are not looking for perfection in this situation. Perfect arouses suspicions! What they are expecting is for documented measures to be put in place. The actions you take need to be well thought through and appropriate to your circumstances – never a ‘tick in the box and then forget’ exercise! The measures could include advice from a relevant third party, workshops, targeted team training, or a combination of several actions.
To help ensure your quality controls are performed to the highest level, with ease and confidence: we’ve launched our new QC Course. But check with Karena for unbiased advice on what would be ideal for your circumstances.
Are you taking your customers’ security seriously?
Online security and the prevalence of hackers is becoming harder to manage. Cyber thieves are creative! You need to demonstrate to DVSA that you have robust and adequate systems in place to protect against fraudulent activity.
It must be documented that staff have understood and agreed to the procedures put in place to protect passwords and security cards. And cards must be kept safe when not in use. DVSA will be looking for obvious signs of non-compliance such as passwords displayed on a wall in the office (!!) and security cards left on a desk – for example.
Do you care about the quality of service you provide?
It should be evident to your customers – and DVSA – that MOT testing is completed to the highest standard and that quality is high on the agenda at your garage.
But how do you demonstrate this to DVSA? An easy way would be to show proper levels of communication across your team, for example, by displaying any forthcoming changes on a notice board or a team newsletter. Documenting minutes from staff meetings is another great way to prove communication is a priority for you.
Another easy win is demonstrating you have a positive and proactive approach to communicating with DVSA. Engage with them to seek advice on staff issues or to find out what ‘best practices’ are happening in other garages.
And, if problems have been found in your operation, what policies and procedures have you put in place to rectify? Are they supportive of your team? And, if there are repeated misdemeanours, do you have disciplinary procedures in place?
Evidence of actions taken for the above will demonstrate you understand what good practice is and that you care about the quality of service you provide.
What also falls within the check is how your station operates regarding public information. Have you displayed information on your complaints procedure so customers can see?
Have you documented recruitment initiatives?
If your operation is substantial enough, you may have a degree of staff turnover. If you do, you must demonstrate to the DVSA that you’ve documented your approach to recruitment and that you employ only skilled MOT testers – checking their employment history and references thoroughly.
DVSA will want to see evidence that you’ve put a process in place that will check the competence of new testers thoroughly, especially before they begin to test on behalf of the AEDM.
Good practice also is to instigate a higher frequency of QC checks in the first few months.
And what’s especially critical with a high turnover of staff is adequate and frequent safety checks on all equipment. This is important, too if you regularly employ temporary staff.
Another DVSA check is that all test bays free from unnecessary distractions – human and non-human. They will want to see the bays are clear of non-relevant items – and if you have regular new starters, the fewer the distractions and hindrances the better!
Are you providing the right level of training for your staff?
All staff must be up to date with annual training requirements and in-year assessments, with no exceptions! The DVSA will check that the AEDM has put in place adequate systems to ensure your operation goes ‘above and beyond’. Training needs must be identified, implemented and documented.
So, to summarise, ignorance is not bliss! Make sure you know what’s expected then deliver it. And if you need help with putting plans and procedures in place, we can certainly help.
Call or email Karena now for any further information, or to book your designated staff member onto the new QC Course