EV fleet risk management
Lloyd Morgan Group is a fleet compliance solutions and training provider which has embraced the Driving for Better Business programme and aims to communicate its fleet safety messages to its customer base. Project manager Sam Law and MD Pete Thompson talk to us about risk management in the EV fleet.
EVs encompass all the standard risks of a vehicle fleet but with new areas for concern which may not be apparent to the first-time fleet user, says Thompson. “A proper driver induction is essential because whether you are driving a hybrid or an EV, you need to know what not to touch when under the bonnet. Drivers need to be educated in refuelling and recharging safely because we are putting them in the proximity of high voltage systems.”
The major risks when dealing with such high voltage batteries are fire or electrocution, and so it is very important that this education extends to anyone who may come into contact with the vehicle’s powertrain, such as technicians and even valets. Thompson says this caution around charging should extend to on-site infrastructure, as depots will increasingly have high-capacity cabling or even battery storage facilities to facilitate the loads required at peak charging times for larger fleets.
EVs and the employer’s duty of care
“Employers have a duty of care under the Electricity at Work regulations, as well as the Health and Safety at Work Act,” says Law. The current shortage in trained technicians is a concern, and fleets should ensure that any technical staff know exactly how to work with EVs safely. “This extends to breakdown and
recovery teams, who also need to know what to touch and not touch,” she says.
“Before the first EVs join a fleet, management must think all of this through and have proper policies in place for the handling, maintenance and education around these vehicles,” she says. “They must engage their manufacturer to provide training and then have a comprehensive plan for cascading that training.”
The EV revolution is unusual in that the most numerous vehicles are in the grey and company car fleets, and therefore with drivers who typically have less professional management or training than commercial vehicle drivers.
This means revising staff handbooks and maybe adding in an additional layer of vehicle ‘type’ training. This also adds unusual risks – for instance, workers charging their vehicles at home may need support risk- assessing charge points, and mitigating the risk of unauthorised access, including by children.
EVs may also affect pacemakers in some circumstances. ‘Type’ or vehicle induction training, which makes the driver familiar with the mechanisms and handling requirements of the vehicle, is also important because EVs do not handle like ICE vehicles.
“They are on a continuity switch, so EVs are much quicker off the mark and slow rapidly, and that can catch an inexperienced driver out to begin with,” says Thompson. “They are also very quiet – just a distant whine – so drivers must be aware that vulnerable road users may not hear them coming.”
“Drivers must also be taught to plan charging into their routes and know exactly how and where they can access compatible charging facilities,” he says.
EVs for fleets – a new journey
Electric vehicles are potentially the solution to cleaner air, cheaper running costs and lessening our contribution to climate change. However, fleets must be aware that while the political narrative is understandably positive, that doesn’t mean EV vehicles do not represent distinct and specific risks.
“We are all embarking on a new journey together,” says Law, “and that means that everyone needs education, including dealerships, salespeople, technicians, fleet and depot managers, and drivers. Risk assessments must be revisited across the board, appropriate policies designed and implemented, and training cascaded to everyone.
So far corporate and commercial fleets have concentrated on the business case for electric vehicles, and their environmental credentials. Now it’s time to address and mitigate their fleet risk.
Lloyd Morgan Group offers transport compliance solutions, training, accreditations and audits, vehicle inspections and PPE.