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EV Hazards: Preparing an EV battery for shipping

Follow these steps to assess whether the battery you’re preparing to ship is a critical risk, a high risk, or an average risk

Westminster, Colo.—With the number of electric vehicles coming through the service department growing day by day, repair facilities need to make sure their technicians are working with EV batteries safely. And they need to do this in a variety of locations, whether it’s inside or outside of a vehicle, or when a battery needs to be packaged and shipped offsite.  

Once a service technician removes an EV battery and is packaging it for shipping, they’ll need to assess its’ risk protocol before packaging it. Follow the steps outlined below from KPA, a safety and compliance company, to assess whether the battery you’re preparing to ship is a critical risk, a high risk, or an average risk. 


Critical Risk

Confirm that there is no critical risk to the battery before performing a more detailed assessment.

  1. Is the battery emitting smoke or flames?
  2. Are there visible sparks or arcing coming from the battery or other components?
  3. Are you able to get a voltage reading from non-energized parts of the vehicle?

The answer to all of those questions should be a definitive, “No.”

Any “yes” answer is an indicator that the battery is a critical risk. If it is not, move on to the assessment of thermal codes, loss of isolation, and physical damage to determine if the battery is high risk or average risk.

Physical Damage

The casing for high-voltage batteries is designed to protect the fragile and volatile internal components, but it’s not foolproof. It’s best to conduct a visual assessment.

  1. Is there evidence of prior fire?
  2. Is there evidence of rupture, puncture, or high impact?
  3. Is there evidence of incorrect disassembly or assembly?
  4. Is there evidence of leakage, either electrolyte or coolant?
  5. Is there evidence of damage to high-voltage components around the battery?
  6. Is there evidence of damage to the vehicle near the battery?
  7. Is there evidence of a collision that could have impacted the battery or its components?
  8. Is there evidence of environmental damage (e.g., water, soil, flora)?

A “yes” answer means the battery is considered high risk.

Thermal Stability

Batteries outside a vehicle are not exposed to heat generated through operation, so any signs of continuing heat generation are warning signs that the battery may be unstable.

Assess a battery’s readiness for shipping

  1. Are all covers (metal or plastic) installed properly? 
  2. Are any covers missing? 
  3. Are all bolts, nuts, fasteners, and shipment brackets installed properly and correctly torqued? 
  4. Is the service plug secured? 
  5. Are all electrical wires and energized components (service plug port) protected from incidental contact? 

Batteries that have all their parts, and all parts are secured and protected as necessary, are good to go for shipping. Performing these basic assessments on each battery, as appropriate to the circumstances, will allow you to classify each battery as critical risk, high risk, or average risk. By doing so, techs will greatly reduce the risk of an EV battery fire. 

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