EV Safety First: A Guide to Electric Vehicle Compliance and Risk Management
Key Areas of Focus for EV Safety
As electric vehicles (EVs) continue to become more popular, there are many things to consider about EV compliance and safety. EVs are complex vehicles that need precise safety protocols when working on them due to the danger their high-voltage systems may introduce if serviced incorrectly.
It’s important for businesses that work with EV repairs to make safety a top priority to avoid hazards and incidents. EV technicians should also have training and qualifications before handling them so that they are aware of the dangers and how to service them safely.
Knowing the skills and techniques necessary to service an EV is crucial, let’s look at this guide to EV Safety.
Intake Process for an EV
When an EV first comes to the shop for service, the vehicle should be identified with a placard or sticker. Generally, a colored tag can be used to identify the key fobs.
Before the work begins, a non-contact infrared thermometer should be used to determine if the damaged battery of the EV is heating up, creating a potential thermal runway event. For this, you will need to place the thermometer under the hood near the vehicle control module, or in the trunk where the junction box is, depending on the vehicle model. If thermal runaway is detected, move the vehicle to an outside isolation zone and contact the fire department immediately (Note: isolation zones must be unobstructed and easily accessible by first responders).
Protective Equipment and Safety Devices
When you are working on an EV, wearing the proper protective equipment (PPE), and using the correct safety devices is critical. Let’s take a look at some.
Technicians should always wear:
- Lineman gloves (also known as rubber-insulating gloves) to avoid injury from exposed high-voltage components. Also, leather outer gloves are to be worn over the lineman’s gloves to protect against cuts, punctures, and tears of the lineman’s gloves. Whether you are working on a hybrid or an EV, these gloves provide protection against electrical hazards.
- Safety glasses to protect your eyes from debris and electric hazards.
- Face shields for extra protection of face and neck from burns.
- EH rated boots/dielectric overshoes to prevent your feet from completing an electrical circuit to the ground.
Safety devices EV technicians use include:
- Multimeter-Category III 1000 Volt rated to ensure the high voltage battery has been deenergized.
- Non-contact infrared thermometer-To check for the battery temperature to ensure the battery is not entering a state of thermal runaway.
- Safety Rescue Hook – To pull the technician to safety in the event of an electric shock.
Frequent testing is required for gloves, boots, and hooks.
Using the right protective equipment and devices allows you to work confidently and avoid risks. To learn more about PPE and safety procedures, download our Electric Vehicle Safety Resource Packet.
How to Deenergize an EV
Another safety protocol is the deenergization of the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. This involves safely shutting down and isolating the electric vehicle’s high-voltage battery before servicing an EV. Additionally, it helps prevent hazardous energy releases.
It’s important to test isolation prior to working on maintenance.
Below are the steps for deenergization
- Prior to deenergizing the battery, review the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions, store the key fob away from the vehicle, and put on all required personal protective equipment. Key fobs can be stored in lock boxes so that an accidental startup doesn’t occur.
- Disconnect all charging equipment and cables from the vehicle.
- Disconnect the 12-volt battery and lower the driver window down for future access into the vehicle.
- Confirm the multimeter is working properly by connecting it to the 12-volt battery. Do not proceed if the multimeter indicates higher than 14 volts or lower than 10 volts.
- The ignition and “READY” light should be off, and the key fob removed from the service area.
- Avoid contact with high-voltage cables unless the battery has been disconnected.
- Follow the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions to deenergize the high-voltage battery.
- Wait at least 15-17 minutes depending on the vehicle model, to ensure all residual energy stored in the vehicle’s electrical system has dissipated.
- Once completed, confirm the high-voltage battery has been deenergized with your multimeter, then you can proceed with repairs.
Adhering to Manufacturer Procedures
Following OEM (original equipment manufacturer) procedures before repair and maintenance is a vital step that gives you guidance on proper procedures and tools. Although this may add an extra step, taking shortcuts may increase the chances of causing injuries or even deaths if high-voltage systems are not handled properly.
You should review the manufacturer’s service manual before each job and follow the instructions provided. Do not rely on memory or assume it is safe to not read through step-by-step instructions. Also, improvising or skipping steps can lead to accidental contact with live voltage sources. OEM procedures are there to help you and have been tested to provide a safe and secure working environment.
Note: New hazards and safety protocols may improve or change over time so that’s why reading safety precautions should be done regularly.
If you are unsure about a procedure, stop and read the OEM manual. Violating safety protocols can significantly increase your risk when working with EVs. Remember your safety comes first so always have the OEM procedures nearby!
Training and Certification
To develop the skills needed to safely service EVs, you need proper training and certification. The good news is that GMG EnviroSafe is committed to empowering businesses and EV technicians through comprehensive EV training programs centered around safety.
Our electric vehicle training includes in-depth instruction from working with EVs and using proper PPE to reviewing safety precautions. With our EV experts on your side, we can help ensure you are servicing your EVs properly and safely.
Once training is completed technicians will have demonstrated competency in key knowledge areas and safety protocols. Uncertified technicians should not handle EVs, in fact, some manufacturers may require certifications to access service information and repairs.
The Role of a Safety-First Culture
The safety culture of businesses servicing EVs should be your number one priority. When leadership is on board and prioritizes safety, technicians are more prone to do the right thing, follow procedures, voice concerns, report incidents, and suggest better precautions. Technicians are also far less likely to take dangerous shortcuts or ignore protocols when safety is the pinnacle of the business.
A safety-first culture leads to an environment where people are deeply invested in their shared well-being. By putting safety at the forefront, companies develop life-saving habits and norms. This culture shift is the most powerful way to prevent injuries and fatalities.
Embracing proper safety protocols is crucial in any business servicing EVs. With protective equipment, manufacturer procedures, training, and a culture that practices safety, the risks of accidents can be mitigated. Safety depends on the discipline of each technician by staying informed and adhering to precautions on every vehicle.
Visit our EV Repair Resource Center to get started on your EV repair training today.