Information for businesses and workers carrying out work on electric vehicles including maintenance, repair, modification, disposal and accident recovery.
Electric vehicles (EVs) typically operate at much higher voltages than other battery-powered industrial equipment such as golf carts, forklifts, sweepers and elevating work platforms (EWPs). As such they can create several unique hazards. This is particularly the case with heavy vehicles such as freight trucks, mining equipment and buses which may operate at higher voltages than passenger vehicles.
Find out more about electric vehicle types.
EVs present several hazards and associated risks for people undertaking work on them. These include:
|Stored or generated electrical energy|
|Powerful magnets contained within EV components|
Mechanics and other workers
Adequate systems should be in place prior to conducting work on electric vehicles to minimise the risk of injury. This applies to motor mechanics and other workers, including:
- underbody technicians
- panel beaters
- spray painters
- auto dismantlers
- fire & rescue
- Installers of aftermarket equipment (e.g. towbars, bullbars, suspension)
- tow truck operators
- waste and recycling facilities
PCBUs undertaking work on EVs must:
- Ensure workers are trained in the work procedures and can demonstrate they are competent to perform the task according to the procedure.
There are currently no specific licence classes for workers undertaking work on EVs, but competency may be achieved by supplementing existing knowledge and experience with relevant technical training. This may include:
- completing a training course provided through a registered training organisation, or
- undertaking product specific training provided by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), or
- a combination of both the above.
Develop safe procedures
Develop safe work procedures that:
- describe the tasks
- identify the hazards and
- document how the task is to be performed to minimise the risks.
Relevant procedures will depend on the type of work being undertaken. Examples may include:
- defining the type of work that may be undertaken within the repair facility and the designated person/s responsible for undertaking or supervising this work
- how to isolate, depower and test the electrical system prior to undertaking work
- limiting unauthorised access by displaying signage and / or creating exclusion zones when undertaking work on the electrical system
- how to manually move a vehicle within the workshop, such as with the aid of a trolley jack or wheel jacks to prevent rotation of the drive wheels.
- emergency procedures in the event of electric shock, arc flash, fire or contact with battery electrolyte.
Provide personal protective equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used to mitigate the risk of electric shock, arc flash and exposure to battery electrolyte. The PPE should be appropriately stored, inspected and replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Appropriate PPE may include:
- insulation gloves
- protective gloves
- arc flash rated clothing
- eye protection
- face shields and
- protective footwear.
Have suitably equipped premises
Ensure the repair facility is suitably equipped to carry out the task. This includes the provision of any necessary OEM information and special service tools such as insulated tools, test equipment and software.
Understand the risks and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
Through safety procedures and worker training, create the environment in which the hazards and associated risks are understood for the type of vehicle that you are working on. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Know your limitations and seek expert advice
Avoid undertaking any work that is not within your level of competency or arrange for the work to be undertaken by a third party. For example; a smash repairer may engage a suitably qualified repairer to perform work on the electrical system, such as; depowering, discharging, inspection and testing.
Most electric vehicles fall into the following categories:
- Plug-in electric vehicle (PEV): a motor vehicle containing an electric propulsion system and a battery unit that can be recharged from an external source of electricity
- Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV): a type of vehicle which combines a traditional internal combustion (IC) engine with an electric propulsion system. The battery unit is recharged during operation of the vehicle
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV): this vehicle has the characteristics of a hybrid electric vehicle with the added function of charging the battery unit from an external power source
- Australian Standard AS 5732:2015 Electric vehicle operations – Maintenance and repair
- Australian / New Zealand Standard AS/NZS IEC 60903:2020 Live working – Electrical insulating gloves
Safety labels for electric vehicles
All electric, hybrid and hydrogen light vehicles are legally required to have a safety label fixed to the front and rear number plates. Electric, hybrid and hydrogen heavy vehicles manufactured or modified after 1 January 2019 also require the labels.
Find out more about safety labels for electric vehicles.