3 Essential Things Everyone Should Know about Forklift Battery Safety

forklift battery. (courtesy: Charles Green)

forklift battery.
(courtesy: Charles Green)

Electric forklifts are ideal for working in indoor environments such as warehouses, distribution centers, and docks because they don’t produce potentially harmful emissions. But battery-powered forklifts are not without their dangers.

The batteries on electric forklifts offer their own set of hazards and forklift operators and other employees working with forklift batteries need to be aware of these dangers.

Here are three essential forklift battery safety facts that everybody in your operation needs to know.

  1. Forklift Batteries Are Potentially Dangerous

There four general hazards presented by forklift batteries. First, they contain battery acid, which is dangerously corrosive. That means it can eat holes in clothing, damage skin, and eyes, and even etch the concrete floor of your workplace.

Second, many forklift batteries give off a flammable hydrogen gas, which can pose a risk of explosion if it comes into contact with a spark in an enclosed space.

Forklift batteries also pose an electrical shock risk.

Finally, forklift batteries are very heavy. So if they are dropped or slip from their cradle, they can easily crush fingers, toes and other body parts.

2. Personal Protective Equipment Is a Must

Employees working with forklift batteries should protect themselves using personal protective equipment such as goggles, face shields, rubber gloves, and/or rubber aprons.

PPE gear is essential when cleaning a battery, checking electrolyte levels, removing vent caps, cleaning up spills, or adding water to battery cells.

3. Be Aware of  Emergency Procedures and Equipment

Anybody who works with forklift batteries needs to know what to do in the event of an emergency.

For example, knowing the location of an emergency spill kit before an accident occurs can save critical time in the event of an actual emergency area. Typically, kits for dealing with acid spills should be located close to battery charging and storage areas.

Acid spill kits contain absorbent materials that can be used to safely clean up potentially harmful acids, such as shovels and plastic container drums that can’t be corroded by acids. A solution of baking soda and water can neutralize acid spills.

Emergency showers and eyewash stations should also be located close to areas where electrolytes are handled. In the event of an employee exposure to acidic materials, eyes or skin should be flushed thoroughly with water for at least ten minutes.

Then the injured employee should seek medical attention to avoid further injury.

While electric forklifts are a useful and essential tool for many material handling businesses, forklift batteries can be dangerous. Acid burns, electrical shocks, and explosions are among the hazards.

Forklift operators and other employees who work with forklift batteries need to be familiar with these forklift battery safety essentials in order to stay safe and minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.


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