Safety First at Virginia Tech

Working in a hands-on, real-world competition comes with some risk. To mitigate that risk, the students at HEVT stress the importance of safety. There are many dangers in their lab, including power tools, high voltage batteries and the weight of the car.

“Safety is important for the team members and the team’s relationship with the school, Ware Lab and EcoCAR 2 competition,” said HEVT’s safety officer and electrical subteam member, Eric Higgins. “It is extremely important for us to be safe due to the nature of the work we do.”

Eric Higgins displays the rubber liner of the High Voltage gloves that team members wear while working with HEVT’s battery pack

The team has established safety practices and trainings to ensure that team members know how to operate tools and equipment properly. They also use proper PPE (personal protective equipment) to keep operators safe. This equipment includes safety glasses, gloves, face shields, high voltage gloves, high voltage tools and safety guards on the tools.

“We also have a stop work condition where a team member can tell anyone to stop what they are doing because it is unsafe,” Eric said. “We haven’t had to do that this year, and that is due mostly to the training team members have completed.”

Before students are able to work on the vehicle, they must pass a Ware Lab safety quiz. Team members working with high voltage batteries from A123 must take a high voltage training to become familiar with tools and potential hazards. Some of the other trainings include:

  • Team Leader Eli White wears PPE as he welds HEVT’s Energy Storage System

    CPR/AED training: team leaders and several members of the electrical subteam participated in the Red Cross CPR/AED training for certification. These precautions were taken to prepare for the worst kind of emergency.

  • Vehicle Lift Training: teaches students safe operation of the HEVT vehicle lift.
  • Machine Shop Training: teaches students proper and safe use of the Klages Machine Shop in the Ware Lab.
  • Welding Class and Certification: Team members must pass a class that instructs them in proper welding techniques and safety before they are permitted into the welding shop or to weld in the Ware Lab.
  • Truck and Trailer training: instructs team members in the proper operation of the Ware Lab truck and trailer for times when they need to transport the vehicle.

“Sometimes we laugh at how ridiculous someone looks with their safety glasses,” Eric said, “but we know it’s for a good reason and would prefer to look ridiculous than be unsafe!”