Battery Safety

What is a battery?

A battery is a power storage unit that consists of cells, separators, a battery tray, and an element which has a positive and negative terminal. The terminals are used to connect the battery to a piece of machinery, equipment or a vehicle.

What hazards are associated with handling batteries?

Serious injuries can occur through the handling of batteries and battery charging equipment. Hazards associated with batteries include:

1. Highly corrosive sulfuric acid contact with skin from spills or splashes while handling batteries
2. Battery explosions toward the end of the charging process due to the emitting of hydrogen fumes
3. Short circuit events during contact with battery cells which can burn unprotected skin
4. Misleading size to weight estimation which can cause ergonomic injury while lifting or transporting batteries

What controls may be used to protect yourself from battery related injuries?

1. Ensure battery charging stations provide adequate protection to the user via enclosed cases or other barriers between the battery and the user
2. Charge batteries only in designated charging areas to limit exposure to other people and operations
3. When charging batteries, pour acid into water. Never pour water into acid to avoid explosions and splashing of corrosives onto personnel (pouring water into high concentrations of sulfuric acid can cause an explosion)
4. Visually inspect batteries on equipment before each use
5. Keep battery terminals free of corrosion
6. Never smoke near battery charging areas
7. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as protective goggles, face shield, gloves, shoes / boots and aprons while charging or performing maintenance on batteries; unless engineering or administrative controls are in place
8. Do not overcharge or undercharge batteries
9. Ensure there is a means of flushing the eyes, rinsing hands, etc. prior to handling batteries if sulfuric acid contacts skin or eyes

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