Brian, Zwick, Stone & Associates
Law Firm in North Canton, Ohio
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Are mechanics ready to work on electric vehicles?

The rapid increase of electric vehicles and hybrids on roads nationwide, including Ohio, raises concerns about the related hazards faced by mechanics in repair shops. Employers are responsible for the safety of workers and adapting safety training to include new dangers.

Safety hazards to consider

The most significant risk is the voltage level of the battery. Employers must ensure that mechanics are aware of potential hazards and how to mitigate them. The most significant danger when working on electric and hybrid vehicles is electrocution. However, unexpected or accidental turning on of these vehicles while mechanics are working on them could have catastrophic consequences.

Safety training

The first and most important thing for mechanics to learn is recognizing a hybrid or electric vehicle because some are easily confused with gas-only cars. Vehicle manufacturers have developed methods and indicators to deal with these safety concerns. However, it is crucial to check with each manufacturer about the details of their color-coding. Although orange is most frequently used to indicate high-voltage cables, blue is used in some models.

Safety mechanisms

To prevent electrocutions and other injuries, some manufacturers of hybrids and electric vehicles now install mechanisms like safety switches by which batteries can be disconnected from the vehicles’ electrical systems. However, the locations of such switches vary from one model to the next. Therefore, it is essential to obtain such information from the various manufacturers.

Other essential safety precautions include gloves approved for working with high-voltage cables, and checking before each shift for cracks, pinholes, tears or splits that could cause the voltage to contact skin. Furthermore, mechanics should wait at least 15 minutes after disconnecting the battery before work commences.

Workers in auto repair shops in Ohio might find comfort in knowing that the state’s workers’ compensation program will have their backs in the event of workplace injuries. However, when dealing with electric or hybrid vehicles, injuries that could result from malfunctions or defective products might give grounds also to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third-party to recover damages.