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You have to know what to do with the latest technology

To process hybrids and electric vehicles you need the right kit, such as this lock to prevent service plugs being accidently refitted or the insulated hook to pull someone away in the event of electrocution. And there's plenty more - RecoAuto's Andy Latham explains...

“Our vision is that by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car”, a very ambitious statement from Volvo Cars that reflects the level of innovation in all motor vehicles right now.

So cars are getting safer to use, they are fitted with equipment that tries to avoid accidents, and if they do have a crash they are designed to protect the occupants with airbags, passenger safety cells and much more.

What about the people who have to repair or dismantle these vehicles though?
How can they remain safe when dealing with all this new technology and equipment?

One area of concern is electric and hybrid systems - a very high tech system in a vehicle that already has a high level of technology fitted - so what can go wrong?

Running at very high voltage, there is serious potential for injury or fatality if these vehicles are not handled correctly when an electric or hybrid vehicle is serviced, repaired or in the aftermath of a road traffic incident.

Batteries running up to 400vDC, electric motor systems that operate up to 800V, 3 phase AC and anything between 800 and 1500 amps, and batteries that can weigh from 30kg to 600kg all have their own inherent dangers.

The first action for any business owner or manager wanting to protect their employees must be training. This training must be able to give all staff a basic awareness of the vehicles they are handling, the dangers inherent in them, what they need to do to minimise any risk and the confidence to approach these vehicles and know what they can undertake and what they may need to leave for a specialist. For those that want to go further into these vehicles then there is more intensive training available that focuses on specific types or makes of vehicle, and the vehicle manufacturers also make bespoke training available to their approved repair networks.

Additionally, everyone who comes into contact with these vehicles will also require some personal protective equipment (PPE) that gives them protection from the high voltages and makes certain that they can operate on these vehicles with minimal potential impact to their health and well being.

A basic PPE kit is available for work on electric and hybrid vehicles which costs around £500 and consists of the following:

Class 0 safety gloves with cotton under gloves and leather over gloves. Protects the operator against shock; under gloves mean operators hands will not sweat and the leather over gloves protect the safety gloves from damage.
Face Shield
Really important when working on high voltage as this protects the eyes from any ‘flash over’ that can occur if an electrical spark is produced
Dielectric over boots
Insulates the operator from earth and prevents an electrical current from passing through the body
Window Signs and Lockout Tags
Indicates to others in the vicinity that this vehicle is an electric and hybrid vehicle and could be dangerous. The tags are secondary warnings that should be placed on the ignition keys and locks so that vehicle cannot be re-started or re-energised without the technician's approval.
Rescue Hook
a large insulated hook that can be utilised by a third person to pull an operator away from the vehicle if they are being electrocuted.
Port Lockout device and padlock
Insulated components that replace the service plug and prevent the service plug being refitted.
Voltage Meter
rated at 1000v to test systems and make certain there is zero or minimal voltage remaining.

Awareness training and this basic kit could be the difference between life and death for a member of staff - can owners and managers not afford the cost?

If you’re concerned, then further training, powered by Salvage Wire is available from RecoAuto and the safety equipment pictured is all available from Total Lockout.

November 2016

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