Thirty hand car washes on supermarket sites in the Midlands will be inspected and audited this month to check that they are complying with regulations and looking after their workers.

The spot checks are part of the Responsible Car Wash Scheme (RCWS), an industry-led pilot project tackling modern slavery and lack of compliance within the hand car wash industry. Accredited operators will be able to display a Responsible Car Wash Operator logo to show customers they are compliant.

Five major supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose) have backed the scheme and are pushing to ensure that their operators are working both safely and legally.

Ten of the inspections will be carried out by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), with a further 10 conducted by the industry. The remaining 10 will be joint inspections. All 30 inspections will check that the operators are protecting their workers, trading legally, adhering to environmental regulations, and taking care of customers and their vehicles.

GLAA director of strategy Darryl Dixon said: “Since the RCWS was formally launched at the House of Lords in October, we have been working with our partners to move the scheme forward in both the East and West Midlands.

“Education is of paramount importance, both for operators so they don’t break the law, but also for the wider public, who will hopefully soon have the simple decision of using a fully accredited, legal operator, or one which is potentially neither.

“That said, there is an important role for enforcement within the RCWS, so we can check that operators wishing to join the scheme are not exploiting their workers.

“If we can have confidence that all supermarket hand car washes are treating their workers fairly and not damaging the environment, this segments the market. This is crucial as it allows us to spend more time developing intelligence in areas where the most serious exploitation is taking place. Naturally, if our intelligence picture continues to become more sophisticated, we and our partners will be able to make more arrests and ultimately protect more vulnerable and exploited workers.”

The RCWS has been developed by the Downstream Fuel Association alongside the GLAA, police, Health and Safety Executive, HMRC, Environment Agency, and the Car Wash Association.