A Health and Safety perspective

We spoke to the HSE about the potential issues surrounding EVs in the workshop

Published:  10 April, 2014

I discussed the situation with Bill Bates, HM Principle Specialist Electrical Inspector and Steve Mason, HM Specialist Inspector (Electrical Engineering), both from the Health and Safety Executive.

Bill commented: "At the moment there is a big push for reducing carbon footprints and reducing the amount of carbon fuelled, mainly because a large amount of the carbon produced is from the internal combustion engine. There is going to be a move there, probably helped with incentive from the government, that VMs will be producing more hybrids and EVs, which means more will be around and more will be exposed to them.

Both Bill and Steve have been working with the IMI on a series of training levels for working with EVs, as Bill explained: "There is a structure that is associated with the accreditation and it has been talked about for some time now. There are five levels, the first looking at valeters and those at a basic level working on these vehicles. Level 2 is called EV hazard management, designed to train first responders such as emergency services or roadside rescue. Routine maintenance is covered in Level 3, while Level 4 covers EV system repair and replacement, more to do with those who actively alter EV arrangements. Level 5 is the newest and is still in discussion. It will cover diagnosis testing and repair of EVs and hybrids and is aimed at those who remove and work on the batteries themselves.

"Level 1 is very basic, then it moves up a level which becomes a bit more involved moving toward first responders. Level 3 moves on to general repair and maintenance, getting on to someone in the aftermarket who is doing general work on these vehicles. What the IMI say is that someone working on these vsehicles should therefore have at least these three levels of training."

Steve adds: "It might be an electric vehicle, yet there may be jobs on the car that are usually fairly routine and not on part of the electrical system. Yet there are still things that people will need to know in this situation. This is why the levels of training are in place. There are those who will simply repair a tyre or a bearing but still these cars need isolating and insulated tools, no matter what part of the vehicle you are working on.

"There is an issue surrounding the multiple sources of energy in hybrids and you then have the range of different types of people who get involved and then manufacturers who produce different types of designs for different purposes. Even manufacturers have different designs within their ranges, so working on one car may not be the same as the other."

Finally, Bill concluded: "The training needed to have standards set and this is now coming to major fruition. The next step is getting it out there and getting people up to speed. There also needs to be procedures in place for businesses and steps in place to ensure that people are regularly trained."

According to the HSE, the key risks involved in maintenance, repair and recovery include:

Electric cables may be damaged by work activities such as lifting the vehicle

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