Working safely on vehicles with carbon |
Sunday, September 30th 2018
Read our Newsletter online

Find us at:      

Working safely on vehicles with carbon

Moditech Rescue Solutions BV News

This month in our newsletter, we focus on working on vehicles with carbon and which safety instructions should be observed during technical assistance.

More on these topics in our newsletter this month!


Carbon fibre reinforced plastics in the vehicle industry are becoming increasingly common. It is light and very strong. For example, we see the use of this plastic in parts of the bodywork. Furthermore, there are also vehicles whose entire cage construction (monocoque) consists of carbon fibre reinforced plastic. The term “carbon” or “carbon fibre” is often used for this plastic.

Carbon fibre is a polymer/plastic reinforced with fibres, mixed with a special resin, after which it is ‘baked’ in a vacuum bag under high pressure in an oven. Carbon fibres are considered Man-Made Mineral Fibres (MMMF).

The bodywork of the BMW 7 Series Plug-in Hybrid has various components made of carbon fibre. The B-pillar is composed of different layers of material including carbon:

BMW 7 series plug-in hybrid 2016-2018

The cage construction (monocoque) of the BMW i3 is made entirely of carbon:

Monocoque BMW i3 2015-2018

Emergency responders are exposed to health risks when carbon fibre is worked on during the extrication of road traffic victim(s) after an accident. There are also risks in the event of a fire. It is important that the emergency services are aware of the presence of carbon fibre. The emergency responders can find this information in the Crash Recovery System. It states whether there is carbon fibre in the vehicle and where!

Do not only protect those carrying out the work, but everyone in the vicinity of the work.

The warning for the presence of carbon fibre follows the text outlined in red and there is a reference to an illustration. By clicking this button, you will see an illustration showing the location of the carbon fibre components.​

The text outlined in red indicates that the entire bodywork is made of carbon fibre. In this case, there is no reference to an illustration of the location that contains carbon fibre.

Use an FFP3 (filtering facepiece) dust mask while working with carbon. This offers protection up to 50x TLV (Threshold Limit Value)/TWA (time weighted average) value for (dust) particles. This mask also offers sufficient protection when working with toughened and laminated glass. In vehicle fires, it is necessary to wear independent respiratory protection.


Recently, we’ve been asked several times what to do when the responder has been contaminated with carbon fibres after a rescue effort or vehicle fire. We have been in touch with the Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor (DGSA) from the Amsterdam-Amstelland safety region. She conducted an investigation following a vehicle fire involving a BMW i3.

Investigation after BMW i3 fire

There are different types of Man-Made Mineral Fibres (MMMF). Some are similar to asbestos, others are not. Since we cannot differentiate, we advise that when in doubt, you should treat them as asbestos and therefore apply the same hygiene measures such as rinsing. Rinse clothing or equipment that is visibly ‘contaminated’ (for example, lit by a torch) with fibres with water. If there are still fibres on the clothing after cleaning with water, the clothing should be put in bags and washed in the same way as clothing contaminated with asbestos (source: Jetty Middelkoop DGSA, safety region Amsterdam-Amstelland, Netherlands).