The EV PPE Challenge

OSHA's jurisdiction in these emergencies is not crystal clear, at least not yet.

The July issue of NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training newsletter contains information sure to be of interest to many, if not all, emergency responders. The top item included in it is a detailed report summarizing the May 1, 2012, workshop on emergency responders' PPE for hybrid and electric vehicles that the National Fire Protection Association hosted in Quincy, Mass. Casey E. Grant, P.E., of NFPA's Fire Protection Research Foundation prepared the report.

Participants in the workshop represented organizations including NHTSA, NFPA, UL, PPE manufacturers, motor vehicle manufacturers, EMS organizations, and the New York State Police. The agenda addressed PPE currently used by firefighters, current electrical PPE, existing electric vehicle emergency response guidance and tactics, and analysis of specific hazards responders may face.

Tow operators who provide roadside assistance may sometimes be first on the scene of an emergency; law enforcement and EMS often are. But participants in the workshop agreed PPE for the fire service is the greatest need, according to the report. (Grant's report says the towing and salvage industry "is highly decentralized with over 30,000 operators, and reaching them with training and education materials has inherent challenges.")

The resources page on the website of NFPA's Electric Vehicle Safety Training project offers a growing library of resources supplied by more than 25 manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles.

OSHA's jurisdiction in these emergencies is not crystal clear, at least not yet. Firefighters employed by publicly funded fire departments are typically outside their jurisdiction, but tow and salvage operators employed by private-sector companies are within in, the report notes. "In summary, federal OSHA is just now becoming aware of the EV issue, and they will need more time to study the scope of the topic to clarify how OSHA will apply," it states.

To read it, visit www.nfpa.org/assets/files//Research%20Foundation/EVPPEWorkshopPart1.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the September 2012 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine, which is owned by 1105 Media Inc.

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