By Andy Latham
Knowledge and understanding of electric and hybrid vehicles is fast becoming an integral part of the vehicle dismantler’s role for many reasons over and above the safety of the technician and their colleagues. This column is titled “CHARGED,” let’s take this title (or acronym) apart.
All members of staff working on these vehicles – collection, assessment and inventorying, storing, depollution, dismantling and parts sales – all need training and certification that is suitable for their specific job roles. This is one part of the whole package that is designed to keep themselves, their team members and the business safe at all times. Salvage Wire are launching new, certified, training programs designed for vehicle dismantlers. Find out more by contacting Salvage Wire.
High voltage (HV) vehicles can kill if not handled correctly, 70-90 volts (DC) and 1/2 amp of current is all that is required to put a person’s heart into ventricular fibrillation, which means the heart is not pumping blood throughout the body. Most HV systems run between 200 and 800 volts and up to 800 amps, depending upon specification, so the correct processes, tools and PPE are essential when working on these vehicles.
All staff should be aware of the risks from these vehicles, even if they do not work on them or handle the vehicles or components. Staff should understand what to do in the event of an emergency such as fire, electric shock or electrolyte leakage, and be prepared to follow the appropriate procedures when an alarm is raised.
Leaders and managers should also learn more about the technology and understand the opportunities that these vehicles bring to the business.
Every process completed on these vehicles needs a risk assessment with the aim of reducing the risk as much as possible. If the risk is still present, then mitigation efforts such as appropriate tools and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be utilized and processes written out. Reducing accidents, errors and incidents is an important part of every person’s role. Risk assessments are designed to do exactly that and should be completed with this in mind. Unfortunately I see too many occasions where risk assessments are viewed as a chore that “have to be done” rather than an opportunity to make things better and safer for all. Once complete, the risk assessment drives investment into processes, training, tools and PPE that are designed to keep people safe, make the process more efficient, and reduce accidents and errors.
Class 0, 1000v rated, electrician’s safety gloves are the most important piece of personal protective equipment. Technicians working on the vehicle rely on these to insulate them from high-voltage components; these gloves need to be checked and tested EVERY time they are used, and if they fail the test, they need to be discarded and replaced. In the U.S. there is a requirement to have the gloves tested and re-certified every six months. Other countries may or may not have similar standards. Regardless, the technician must test and confirm the condition of the gloves every time they are used.
Other high voltage equipment includes floor matting or rubber boots for grounding purposes; insulated hand tools when working on the HV systems; eye protection; safety rescue hook; electrolyte spill kit; and multimeter or voltage detector (Cat 3, 1000v). Get 10% discount at Eintac.com on all tools, PPE and fire blankets using discount code TS10.
Duty of Care
Everyone has a duty of care to keep all team members, colleagues and customers safe. This includes everything discussed here along with some specific actions, such as placing warning signs on vehicles and putting a cordon around an electric or hybrid vehicle that is being worked on to keep the unqualified away from the vehicle. Leaders’, managers’ and owners’ duty of care indicates that they should train their staff, provide them with tools, PPE and the processes to do the job safely, and monitor to make certain this is being done. Duty of care includes the need to follow the processes given, use the tools and PPE correctly, and look after the vehicle they are working on.
So next time you see CHARGED in the magazine, remember the acronym:
Embrace the high-voltage future and explore the opportunities these vehicles bring to your business. Get your team certified and aware with Salvage Wire and equipped with the right electric vehicle safety equipment, to keep you, your team and your business safe.
On aracertification.com, order the new safety stickers to indicate a hot or safe EV vehicle during dismantling.
Andy Latham is Managing Director of Salvage Wire. His desire is to highlight the professionalism in the vehicle recycling industry, increase knowledge and understanding, and keep everyone safe, ethical, and profitable.