Reconstituted heavy-duty batteries are a crucial part of many fields, and doing your own maintenance can extend a battery’s usable life. This can save you time, money, and energy. To perform battery maintenance safely, you must be aware of OSHA guidelines. Additionally, you must take precautions to keep your workers safe in case an industrial battery accident does occur.
OSHA Guidelines Regarding Industrial Batteries
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has several specific guidelines regarding reconstituted industrial batteries. The equipment in which these batteries are used, such as electric forklifts, can be dangerous if handled improperly. OSHA requires that workers charge electric forklifts and other equipment fully before using it. Additionally, these heavy lead-acid batteries should be charged in a separate area away from workers. Remember that industrial batteries must be changed frequently; it’s safer not to operate equipment with a draining battery.
Equipping Your Battery Charging Area
Once you’ve set aside a charging area, make sure it complies with OSHA rules. A proper charging area should have adequate warning signs posted in several visible areas. It should also have sufficient fire protection and a telephone for emergencies.
Your charging area needs neutralization materials for the emission or leakage of dangerous battery components. To go along with this, the charging area should be fully ventilated. Otherwise, hydrogen gas can build up and lead to fatal medical emergencies. Adequate ventilation will also protect the area from fires, but the charging station should have at least one CO2, foam, or dry chemical fire extinguisher.
Required Battery Maintenance Gear
An OSHA-compliant charging station is essential, but the best way to protect yourself is wearing the proper gear while handling batteries. Industrial batteries are heavy and made up of corrosive chemicals that can cause severe burns and other injuries.
To protect yourself, you’ll need PPE-approved goggles and a face shield. Always cover your hands with acid-resistant gloves. In particular, verify the gloves’ resistance to sulfuric acid; contact your supplier for information. All of your clothing, including footwear, should be acid-resistant, and you should wear a chemical-resistant apron if you work with batteries frequently. Make sure your footwear is sturdy; opt for work boots or a similar shoe.
Do not wear loose-fitting clothing around batteries or open flames. If a long sleeve or other clothing item catches fire, the flames can spread instantly. Additionally, avoid wearing materials such as rayon, nylon, silk, or lace. These materials provide little to no protection against open flames or acid spills.
In Case of an Accident
Acid spills, burns, and electrical accidents can happen no matter how careful you are. If one does occur, ensure your workplace is ready. OSHA requires an eyewash station with a minimum 15-minute flow in the battery charging area.
If an acid spill occurs, neutralize it immediately using approved acid neutralizing agents. Ensure the acid has stopped fizzing before attempting to clean up the spill. To be perfectly safe, check the spill’s pH first. For large spills, you may need earth or clay dikes. Rinse spill residue from the battery with a water hose, and remove grime from around the connectors. Report the spill to a supervisor who can contact the proper authorities about safe disposal.
IPS provides battery maintenance and safety training as a service to its customers in both the sales and warehouse departments. For more information, contact us today.