In accordance with the Paris Agreement which came into effect on 4th November 2016, the British Government promised to ban all sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and by 2050 all vehicles on the road will be zero emissions. This commitment to cleaning up the country’s air, as well as pressure to bring the deadline forward by 8 years means there has been a rapid increase in Electric & Hybrid vehicles on our roads.
As a recovery worker working on the UK roads, it is becoming more and more likely to come across one of these vehicles in need of assistance – and there are additional hazards that workers must be aware of to conduct their business safely.
Electric & Hybrid Vehicles
There are currently three main types of Electric & Hybrid Vehicle on the UK roads, these are:
Battery Electric Vehicles – these use a large capacity battery and either a single or multiple electric motors to drive the vehicle. Using the electricity supply network the battery is charged when the vehicle is static and not in use. The vehicle intelligently recovers some energy during braking.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles – using both a battery and either a petrol or diesel combustion engine, the vehicles onboard computer automatically selects the most fuel-efficient source of power to meet the driver’s commands. The battery is charged from the internal combustion engine as well as through braking.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles – are very similar to hybrid vehicles with the addition that they can also be charged directly from the electricity supply network.
Electric & Hybrid Threats to Recovery Workers
Most vehicles have a 12 or 24-volt electrical current running through it, and garages and recovery workers are very familiar with this. Electric & Hybrid Vehicles, however, can have up to 650 volts direct current. To give context to this, 150 volts of direct current is hazardous in dry conditions, and any contact with 600 volts DC is highly likely to deliver a fatal shock.
Adding to this, the battery systems in these cars store significant amounts of energy; they can move a one-ton vehicle over 40 miles. In the event that this power system short circuits or is suddenly released, it would not be uncommon to experience, vehicle damage, fire, explosions, or a combination of them.
Risks to Recovery Workers
Working on the main roads in Britain offers plenty of hazards already, but repairing and maintaining Electric & Hybrid Vehicles increases the risks to workers, and subsequently the owners of those vehicles. Assessing risks in the work environment gets more complicated as you have to take into account the vehicle make, type, specific information provided by the manufacturer, the logistics of the currents running through the car, the connections between the internal combustion engine and the battery, and other aspects involving magnetic fields and harmful liquids.
It is vitally important that you equip yourselves with reliable equipment and the best Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Safety Tools. Check out our safety equipment available on back-order, including our complete Hybrid Vehicle Service Tool Kit that is fully HSE Compliant.
Browse through our Electric Vehicle Safety Products