In its big post pandemic return since it last made an appearance in 2019, the UK Garage & Bodyshop Event took place at the NEC in Birmingham in June 2022, organised by Automechanika UK, an online community for the UK Automotive Aftermarket.
I was lucky enough to attend, and with electric vehicle (EV) safety being a hot topic, I was especially interested in the EV and Hybrid Training Hub. It included speaker and EV expert Tom Denton, plus lots of information on the impact of EV, training and where to access it, and key level requirements.
Here’s some key highlights of what was covered…
One in six cars are now electric and the industry is navigating its biggest shift in decades. New car sales for diesel and petrol cars continue to reduce, and there’s a marked growth of mild hybrids, battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and hybrid electric vehicles.
The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) have TechSafe, an initiative to encourage EV uptake and aid maintenance, safety, and duty of care. Supported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the programme has four levels of IMI qualification related to HV awareness, recovery, and repair.
In car sales and valeting areas, a Level 1 Award in Electric/Hybrid Vehicle Awareness may be sufficient. For those dealing with incident response, the Level 2 Award in Electric/Hybrid Vehicle Management for Emergency and Recovery Personnel may be needed. There’s also a Level 2 Award in Electric/Hybrid Vehicle Routine Maintenance Activities.
Excluding high voltage systems, Level 3 is for Repair and Replacement, and Level 4 includes high voltage system diagnosis, testing and repair, including components found in EV/Hybrids.
No specific legislation exists to protect technicians when working on high voltage systems in vehicles. But the Office for Low Emission Vehicles refers to the Electricity at Work Regulations and associated HSE guidance in terms of legal requirements.
EV PPE was on display at the UK Garage and Bodyshop Event. Including helmets with arc visors, face shields, gloves (electrical insulated as well as leather and cotton styles), and arc flash workwear.
The PPE requirements for technicians will depend on the level they’re trained to and activities they carry out. This should be determined by the results of their organisation’s risk assessment.
Tower provide some customers who deal with EV and hybrids with electrically insulated safety footwear, a type of product different to dielectric over boots. When recovering an EV or hybrid from a highway, they should work to PAS 43 and wear EN 20471, Class 2 or Class 3 hi vis clothing.
As a supplier of PPE workwear to many household names in the power & utilities market, Tower has extensive expertise in protecting against high voltage risks highlighted by your company’s assessment.
The Minister of State for the Future of Transport, George Freeman, MP, said: “Electrification of vehicles is happening, and we want to make sure that drivers have confidence that their vehicles can be maintained and serviced to the highest standard. Safety will always be our priority and building a sector equipped to manage the increasing demand of electrified vehicles is key.”
We will ensure that your technicians have the right PPE to work on EVs and hybrids. And we use our experience and knowledge to help keep you safe at work with the right advice and solutions.
Although it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure that employees are adequately protected, we work with customers who share their risk assessments to support with PPE selection.
As well as a supplier of PPE uniform to the AA and RAC with expertise in technical PPE, we also have a skilled in-house team who can apply your logo to workwear.
Tower proactively stays close to the changing needs of the garage industry. We’ve joined AVRO, the Association of Vehicle Recovery Operators, we will be exhibiting at the Tow Show, and will also be attending the Emergency Services Show and Highways UK event.
As well as our EV expert, Mark Dowling is also an EV driver! Start an EV safety in the workplace conversation with him today by filling out a contact form.