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Using safe tools is crucial when working on electric vehicles. Working around live electrical currents presents a high risk of electrocution, resulting in serious injury or death. Using insulated tools is essential for preventing this from happening, so what are the five insulated tools that every EV technician needs? We’d put the top five as pliers, ratchets, screwdrivers, sockets, and spanners.

Starting off with the basics, an insulated plier is one of the most common tools you’ll need in your kit, perfect for twisting, gripping and cutting wires and cables. Screwdrivers are essential for working on the components found in EV’s such as the battery, and ratchets, sockets, and spanners are car toolkit necessities.

Each of these tools is a vital part of a toolkit for working on any vehicle, so having insulated versions for working on EV’s means you have the tools you’ll definitely need and that they’ll give you the necessary protection.

Insulated tools protect you against injury if you make contact with an energized source. Every insulated tool must be marked with an official 1,000-volt rating symbol and the year it was insulated. These markings indicate that the tool will protect you for live use up to 1,000 VAC or 1,500 VDC.

These tools will have been tested to meet the strict standards of VDE certification, with every insulated tool bearing the VDE logo. The majority of hand tools will come with a rubber coating over the handle.

You can find plenty of each of these essential tools in our range, along with plenty of others to round out your comprehensive tool kit. Browse here today to find all the essential insulated tools that you need for safely and effectively working on EV’s.

When working on electric vehicles, workers can be at risk of electric shock, which can result in serious injury or death. Using insulated tools are one of the many important steps to take to protect against injury.

Insulated tools are designed to protect the user in the event that they touch an energised source, such as the high voltage components and cabling of an electric vehicle. All insulated tools must be marked with an official 1,000-volt rating symbol, which ensures the user is protected for live use up to 1,000 VAC or 1,500 VDC, and the year it was insulated.

So how do you look after your insulted tools?

Looking after your insulated tools requires care when using them and inspections afterwards. Tips for use include:

Use the right tool for the job

The first step in looking after your tools is making sure you’re using the right ones for the task at hand. Tools are always designed for specific needs, with different shapes and sizes of tools and their components that are intended for precise use.

Inspect insulated tools before and after use

Visually inspect your tools to ensure there’s no damage before and after you use them. Address any wear and tear immediately by taking the tool out of use until it’s repaired, or a replacement is available. Damage to a tool removes the protection that it usually offers against shocks, leaving you at risk of serious injury from electric shock.

Use your tools correctly

Always use your insulated tools in the environment and temperature that the manufacturer has specified, along with following any general safety advice supplied with the tools. For example, using an insulated tool near a source of high heat can easily cause damage.

Using the best tools with the help of EINTAC

Following these steps for looking after your insulated tools is easier when using high-quality, well-designed tools. If you’re looking for the best insulated tools for working on EVs, you can find a wide selection of quality kits and individual tools in our store. Browse the range today to find the ideal tools for EV maintenance.

If you’re in need of EV maintenance training, we also offer training programmes aimed at vehicle technicians, automotive recyclers, auto body repairers, roadside recovery agents and emergency first responders. Find out more today here or get in touch with us to enquire.

Feature image credit: Pixabay

Electric and hybrid vehicles have significantly higher voltages than other vehicles, and accidental contact with an energised source from these vehicles can be fatal.

Technicians who will be coming into contact with live circuits when working on EV’s are at risk of electric shock, serious injury, and even death if the correct tools aren’t used.

This is why it’s important to always use insulated tools for EV’s and any other work involving live circuits. However, these tools can also present a danger if they’re not properly used and maintained.

Using the wrong tools

Misusing tools in circumstances where insulated ones should’ve been used can have serious consequences. There have been cases of improper use of tools causing accidents, some as severe as explosions resulting in death.

In 1999, an electrician in Virginia, USA accidently dropped a screwdriver onto two 220-volt lines, which sparked a huge explosion leaving him with severe burns and igniting a fire that destroyed several nearby business landmarks.

In the same year, three employees at the Energy Centre in Kansas, USA were killed after a 26-foot fireball was caused by an electrical explosion. The main cause of this accident was found to be a lack of proper safety precautions, such as the use of protective equipment and insulated hand tools.

Inspecting the right tools

Frequent inspections of insulated tools are essential. Any wear or tear must be addressed straight away, with the tool taken out of use.

Using a damaged tool can remove the protection that it usually offers against electric shocks. There are steps you can take to ensure your tools are safe to use, such as:

Visual inspections – take a look at the tools to check for any cracks or damage to the outer layer. If damage is visible, don’t use the tool until it’s been fixed or replaced.

Using in the correct environment – only use insulted tools in ambient temperatures that the manufacturer has specified. Never use them around sources of heat, as this will cause damage.

Be careful of un-insulated parts – don’t touch any un-insulated parts of the tool, as this could come into contact with an energised source and give you a shock.

Avoid sharp objects – Keep insulated tools away from knives and other sharp tools to prevent accidental damage to the outer layer.

EINTAC

If you’re in need of some insulated tools, you can find a range of tools and kits at our store, along with training courses for working on electric and hybrid vehicles. Get in touch today to find out more.

Feature image credit: Unsplash

The emerging industry of low carbon vehicles and battery power automotive is presenting occupational hazards more usually associated with electrical switchgear and power cable installation and maintenance.

Whether you are a motor vehicle technician, a training establishment, vehicle recovery, emergency services or first responders, it’s now increasingly likely that you may be exposed to the risk of arc flash.

Arc flash, also known as flash-over, is the light and heat produced as a result of a fault. Normally a short-circuit. Increasing voltages in automotive battery power systems are now a viable source of arc flash.

For all skills and trades working on electric and hybrid vehicles, arc flash clothing can provide a robust defensive layer to the risk of burns from arc flash.

As this hazard is still relatively new in the automotive industry, accurate information can be difficult to locate.

We are often asked for help or advice in selecting Arch Flash Protective Clothing. Customers seek our guidance to recommend or approve the PPE (personal protective equipment) they have selected.

Without knowing the nature of the tasks being undertaken, it’s impossible to make any specific recommendation. However, we can direct the customer in a process of risk assessment which will lead them to selecting to right arc flash protective clothing for their task(s).

The number of variables in activity, procedure and the equipment being worked in, all have a bearing on the choice of clothing.

For example, different vehicle manufacturers use different battery pack voltages i.e. Prius: 201.6 V DC, Tesla: 400 V DC.

The nature of the task being undertaken will also serve to determine clothing choice.

It’s also important to note that while a customer might select clothing based on a specific set of planned tasks, if these tasks change, it’s likely that the protective clothing selection will also need to change, or at least be reviewed to ensure its suitability.

Take the example of an MOT tester who would (in theory) be conducting ‘non-intrusive’ work on an electric vehicle, when compared to a mechanic working for a vehicle dismantler or recycler.

Furthermore, even specific job roles will be required to undertake vastly different tasks i.e. one Vehicle Technician could be undertaking a routine service, while another could be removing or stripping down an AC motor in the drivetrain. These two Technicians would require different Arc Flash PPE as the risks associated with their jobs are different.

Arc Flash PPE has a rating number in cal/cm2 (calorie per square centimetre) (1) and any PPE in use must equal or exceed this number/cal rating.

The difficult part is working out what cal rating you actually need. To do this you must carry out a thorough risk assessment. A separate risk assessment should be undertaken for each different vehicle. Organisations who regularly work on a wide range of electric hybrid vehicles are well advised to catalog all makes and models likely to be worked on, listing the battery and/or AC motor voltages for each (referring to the manufacturers as necessary) and cross checking the various task and the appropriate clothing to be used.
Use an Arc Flash Calculator, then check and double check the results.

To emphasise the importance of this, bear in mind that electric hybrid vehicles are evolving fast. In the near future vehicles will be running 800V DC batteries and future generations of batteries are planned to be in excess of 1100V DC – all with increased power output to the onboard AC motors. Therefore, the huge range of power outputs that needs to be accommodated means that one set of Arc Flash Protective PPE may not be sufficient for every workshop.

Organisations that are robust in their preparations for the increased influx of low carbon vehicles, and who take a proactive approach to risk assessment, training and the acquisition of the right clothing and tools, are the most likely to succeed in keeping their workers safe in the workplace.

While Total Lockout will support and guide as much as possible, the ultimate responsibility lies with the organisation acquiring the equipment.

Furthermore, anyone from a valetor to a senior technician that are, or will soon be working on any electric or hybrid vehicles should be suitably trained and accredited to a level commensurate with the work they are to be undertaking on any vehicle.

To conclude, it’s worth remembering that personal protective equipment is widely understood to be the last line of defence against injury. In the case of electrical systems, isolation, discharge and testing for dead is the ultimate defense. At the same time, it’s acknowledged that some of the work described here can only be carried out with systems live, e.g. MOT Testing. It’s also important to note that there may be some parts of the vehicle electrical system which can hold electrical charge after isolation.

 

(1) A calorie is the energy required to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius at one atmosphere.

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