(Article published in L’Automobile Mechanic magazine, December 2023)

Starting in January, the Program Compétences VÉ (PCVÉ) automotive and bodywork training program run by the Conseil provincial des comités paritaires de l’industrie des services automobiles (CPCPA), its joint committees (CPA) and the Comité sectoriel de main-d’œuvre des services automobiles (CSMO-Auto) will focus on safety training for workers specializing in electric vehicles.

We are well aware of the high risk of accidents associated with high voltage on hybrid and electric vehicles. Consequently, such training is becoming increasingly necessary as sales of hybrid and electric vehicles are set to exceed the 15% mark this year.

This training will lead to an EV Safety Attestation, and participants will be credited with level 3 of the 5-level PCVÉ programs offered by the CPCPA, its CPAs and the CSMO-Auto. If they wish, they can subsequently pursue their training under the provincial program to achieve the level of EV Certification for EV maintenance and repair.

According to Philippe Bussières, Senior Training Advisor at the CPCPA, “With the marked surge in the number of hybrid and electric vehicles, the number of handling operations is on the rise. Given the peculiarities of their powertrains, increased weight and systems that used to be belt-driven but now operate on high voltage, a question arises.”

Is all work on EVs the same as on internal combustion engine vehicles?

The answer is no, not for all jobs!

When working on hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles, there’s still an internal combustion engine. What’s different is the high-voltage part, which propels the vehicle or powers certain components.

So are automotive technicians, bodywork and heavy-duty vehicle specialists qualified to work on these systems? Are they aware of the risks involved in working with high voltage?

The answer is still no. The work habits of these technicians on electrical systems are based on low voltage. It is therefore essential to provide safety training on vehicles with high-voltage batteries, as to ensure the security of workers.

This explains the urgent need to develop and implement an EV Safety Attestation, points out Charles Gagnon, Executive Director of the CPCPA. What’s more, a request will be made to the government to standardize this training and possibly make it mandatory. The CPCPA is committed to working on this important issue in partnership with Auto Prévention and the CSMO-Auto.

Charles Gagnon reminds us that a 50 mA (0.05 A) current passing through the heart is enough to provoke cardiac arrest. With a 350 V HT battery, the current that can pass through the body is equivalent to 170 mA, well above critical thresholds for the human body, which can cause cardiac arrest and burns to internal organs.

For Stéphane Hébert, Director of Training at CPA Cantons de l’Est, “We need to give industry workers confidence and safety training and prepare them for the marked increase in the number of EVs over the next few years.” Mr. Hébert points out that auto body repair technicians must also take this training to avoid accidents when working on these vehicles.

Francis Leblanc, Director of Training and Partnerships, is heavily involved in the Québec City and Lévis regions. To find out what training courses are available this winter, those interested in the PCVÉ automotive or bodywork training courses must contact one of the people listed below, so that they can be directed to the right resource.

Philippe Bussières, for Montréal and Western Québec, [email protected]

Stéphane Hébert, for the Eastern Townships, [email protected]

Francis Leblanc, for Québec, Lévis and Eastern Québec, [email protected]

Patrick Désaulniers, for Mauricie, [email protected]

Marie-Michelle Audet, for Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, [email protected]

Martin Gagné, for Laurentians and Lanaudière, [email protected]

Emmanuelle Fabius, for CSMO-Auto, [email protected]

The training calendar is also available on the PCVÉ website:

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