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In the last blog, we identified the four biggest hazards associated with working with the batteries and chargers used with electric forklifts: Weight, caustic fluids, gasses, and exposure to electricity.
Now we are going to look at 10 simple rules you can use to promote forklift battery safety and minimize the risk of accident or injury.
Forklift Battery Safety Rules
Forklift batteries offer an ideal solution to many operations, especially those that work indoors such as warehouses or docks. Following a few simple rules can keep workers safe and operations productive.
- To minimize exposure to the general worker population, designate a battery charging area that is separate from the main workspace. It can be a room or a zone far away from other workers and materials. Just make sure it is properly ventilated.
- Make sure the battery charging station area is located on a flat surface, not an incline, and has acid-resistant floors and walls.
- To prepare for an emergency, equip the battery charging station or room with an eyewash station, spill kits, foam fire extinguishers, and hydrogen gas detectors.
- Require employees who recharge batteries to wear PPE, including safety goggles, face shields, and rubber or neoprene aprons and gloves.
- Make sure the recharging area is free from anything metal, including exposed pipes, building materials, or jewelry.
- Smoking and flammable materials should never be allowed into the recharging station.
- When beginning a recharge, check the electrolyte and water levels. If more water is needed, wait until charging is finished before adding it. Also, when mixing the electrolyte, make sure you add the acid to the water, not the water to the acid. And pour slowly to avoid splashing.
- When connecting the clamps to the battery, make sure the charger is turned off and unplugged.
- If the battery starts to get hot during the charging process, stop, turn off the charger, and allow it to cool off. Then restart with a lower charge rate. Most forklift batteries with sealed vents shouldn’t exceed 25 amperes of current.
- Keep a detailed log that records when each forklift battery was recharged — including vehicle number, time and date — and who did it. This will help with preventative maintenance and will create a record in case of an accident or incident later.
Forklift Battery Signage and Training
Workers who have not been properly trained on recharging protocols should not be allowed to recharge forklift batteries.
It’s a good idea to put up signage in the charging station to promote recharging safety and to reinforce safety rules. The more aware workers are of the potential hazards of working with forklift batteries, the more cautious they will be and the less risk of an accident will exist.