Electric vehicles are an increasingly attractive option, due to their lower running costs, the expanding choice of models available and intensifying concerns about air quality and climate change. The government have announced the end of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030, pledging £1.3 billion to accelerate the roll-out of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets across the UK and on motorways across England, so people can more easily and conveniently charge their cars.
Electric car charging and installation could soon become second nature and a part of everyday life, just like charging a mobile phone is today and as well as being a more environmentally-friendly way to drive, going electric can also save money on everything from fuel costs and car maintenance to road tax and congestion charges. With the anticipated huge intake in installing charging points, we look at the safety around EV charging points.
Whilst there is no specific workplace health and safety legislation that specifically applies to EVs, the general requirements of Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 apply to employers in respect of ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees and those not in employment who may be affected by the activities of the employer.
In addition, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 are applicable to a vehicle used at work and in respect of electrical safety in relation to work, the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 apply both to the electrical safety of the vehicle and of any associated charging equipment or infrastructure.
Fire risk assessment
In premises where the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (or equivalent legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland) applies, the fire safety management strategy should consider practical passive, active, and managerial control measures as part of the fire risk assessment for the premises when selecting and designing areas for use as electric charging points.
The Fire Protection Association has published guidelines developed with the RISCAuthority to promote best practice for the provision and maintenance of charging points for electric vehicles. The key points from the guidelines include:
When deciding where to locate electric charging points, review it as part of the overall risk assessment for the company premises.
- Allow adequate space for vehicles to be parked safely in the charging area. Ensure that the charging connection can be made without overstretching cables.
- Ensure that all staff who will be using or maintaining the charging points receive the training they need to use the equipment safely.
- Ensure that charging areas are well ventilated, and are designed to avoid the risk of overheating during charging.
- Display signage to show the location of charging points. You should also indicate clearly the type of vehicle that the charging point is suitable for. This is particularly important where there are multiple charging points at a location. Rapid charging points or DC fast charge have more potential hazards because of the 500V direct charge, and must be clearly differentiated from other charging points.
- The circuit used for supplying electricity to the charging points must be used solely for the chargers and must not be part of a main ring. The circuit must be appropriate for the electrical load.
Service & maintenance
Routine checks should be made to ensure any damage to the charger is identified, isolated, and reported at the earliest opportunity. Electrical safety devices such as RCDs should be functionally tested at regular intervals as this reduces the severity of any electric shock or short circuit and could save a life. You must also ensure you have a schedule of preventative maintenance, inspection and testing in place.
For further information on safety around EV charging points, please contact us here.