Safety reminder issued as electric vehicle sales accelerate
WorkSafe Victoria has reminded employers of their obligations to provide appropriate training and supervision as the growing popularity of electric vehicles creates new challenges for mechanics. The reminder comes after the new federal Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme, which seeks to improve access to vehicle safety information, took effect on 1 July. The scheme allows registered training organisations and trained motor vehicle repairers to access information about a vehicle’s high voltage, electric and hydrogen propulsion systems and connected components. Electric vehicles include battery electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, which can be dangerous if not worked on safely.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Dr Narelle Beer said Section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires employers to give workers information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to work safely. Beer said that the demand for repair and maintenance work for electric vehicles is expected to rise along with the popularity of electric vehicles. However, many mechanics may not have training or experience working with these systems. “Electric vehicles contain large battery arrays that can be extremely dangerous if not worked on safely. Without a safe system of work, these batteries, and components wired into their circuits, can cause electrocution or burns, leading to serious injury or death,” Beer said.
Units on maintenance of electric vehicles are currently not a standard in many vehicle mechanics courses and many existing qualified vehicle mechanics may not have had any training specific to electric vehicle safety. Electric vehicle safety skills can be obtained through further study and are a requirement for those who would like to participate in the scheme.
“It’s critical that employers take all practical steps to ensure workers have the information, instruction, supervision and safe systems of work they need to work safely,” Beer said.
Plug-in electric vehicle sales reportedly tripled from 6900 or 0.78% of new car sales in 2020 to 20,665, or 2% in 2021, according to the Electric Vehicle Council, and are forecast to continue to grow as affordability improves in the coming years. The Victorian Government’s Zero Emissions Vehicle Roadmap includes a suite of policies to support the uptake of electric vehicles. For information about the Motor Vehicle Service and Repair Information Sharing Scheme, contact AASRA or ACCC.
The new scheme rules can be accessed here.
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