Carol Broadwell Dietrich has specialized in training, learning and development leadership for more than 30 years. She is the director of training services for DEKRA North America, where she leads all training initiatives for the region.
The company has been busily training technicians on EV safety as the number of those vehicles on the road — and in dealership service bays — grows.
Dietrich spoke with Reporter Mark Elias about the importance of electric vehicle safety training not just for technicians but every dealership employee who may come in contact with them, and how EV training might evolve in the coming years. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: Why do you think it’s imperative for employees beyond technicians to have EV safety training?
A: Based on our experience, we know high-voltage training is essential for any employee who may come into contact with or work near an electric vehicle. These include managers, supervisors, office staff and support personnel in service and collision repair facilities. It’s also essential knowledge for automotive manufacturers, EV battery and device manufacturers, battery recycling, EV battery repair and suppliers. The training aims to keep employees safe and make workplaces safer.
What specifically are they taught?
Our training covers practical information, including identifying and locating high-voltage components, determining whether a vehicle is de-energized and general de-energizing procedures. High-voltage training begins with the basics: the battery, components, measurement instruments, [personal protective equipment] and legal regulations. We focus on the risks and safety in high-voltage vehicles and batteries and safe behaviors while working on or near high-voltage vehicles. Additionally, the course introduces fault diagnosis in the battery, along with repair and work processes relevant to handling damaged and wrecked high-voltage vehicles.
Is there one-on-one training, or is it more of a group setting?
Our in-person training sessions are in small group settings, while e-learning is completed by the employee individually at a time and pace that works best for them. Our e-learning platform includes more than 50 learning modules, totaling nearly 6 hours of high-voltage learning content. Additionally, the company offers virtual reality-based training. This state-of-the-art approach takes technicians’ electric vehicle experience and practices to a new level. It allows them to develop proficiency in a safe environment before they move on to working with high-voltage components and systems.
Where do you see EV training going in the future?
Moving forward, there will be varying levels of high-voltage safety training needed by different groups based on their job function or role. OEMs will focus on advanced technical training for dealers and certified collision centers. At the same time, independent repairers will need to learn how to safely disconnect battery systems and safely handle EVs in general. Ultimately, we believe that EV training will occur at three levels:
- Level 1: Safety training for call center agents or gas station operators, among others.
- Level 2: Advanced safety training, including de-energizing procedures, for independent repair shops, tow truck drivers and emergency personnel, for example.
- Level 3: Advanced technical training, including assembling and disassembling high-voltage components for dealer technicians and certified collision repair technicians.