The battery system in the Chevrolet Volt is very complex and must balance a variety of performance criteria, including the safety of vehicle occupants and other users. In order to assure a thorough approach to battery system safety, a system safety engineering process was applied and found to provide a useful framework. This methodical approach began with the preliminary hazard analysis and continued through requirements definition, design development and, finally, validation. Potentially hazardous conditions related directly to functional safety (for example, charge control) and primary physical safety (for example, short circuit conditions) can all be addressed in this manner. Typical battery abuse testing, as well as newly defined limit testing, supported the effort. Extensive documentation, traceability and peer reviews helped to verify that all issues were addressed. A description of the process which was followed, specific examples of its application and recommendations for future refinement of the approach are provided.