Electric Vehicle Safety Precautions for Collision Repair Centers

When bodybuilders ask Dirk Fuchs on the risks incurred when working on electric vehicles (EV), I-CARThe director of technical programs and services says the danger is “very real”.

To help prepare and educate stores and their teams to repair electric vehicles, Fuchs recently shared information on safety considerations during a webinar hosted by the Automotive Service Association (ASA), including how to assess the safety features of a high-voltage vehicle as it arrives in a facility’s parking lot and key safety points in the repair process.

Electric vehicle safety: where to start

Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, hybrid and battery electric vehicles typically range from 200 to 920 volts. Fuchs talked about the risk of electrocution with electric vehicles due to the electrical power in the high-voltage system and the current that causes electricity to flow through a contactor.

“The current kills you, not the volt,” he explained. “Therefore, you need to know what kind of current there is.”

The graph below depicts the risk of current relative to the human body.

In the AC1 zone, no effect is felt, even with prolonged application. A feeling of pain begins with AC2; however, there is usually no dangerous current flowing through the body.

Fuchs stated that the human body has a resistance of 1000 Ohm (the unit of electrical resistance).

“When a person encounters 400 volts in a high voltage system, their body will be exposed to 400 mA,” he explained. With this exposure, the body enters the danger zone—AC3—which leads to muscle cramps.

“The danger in this case is that the body won’t let go,” he said. “After 500ms, we enter the next area — AC4.” In this area, ventricular fibrillation, cardiac and respiratory arrest can occur, which has life-threatening consequences.

Although electric vehicle technology can be very dangerous, Fuchs said automakers have “many, many safety systems in place.” He stressed the importance for technicians to be aware of the risks.

When an EV arrives at a body repair shop via tow truck/platform, Fuchs reminds technicians to…