Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

12 Safety Tips When Working With Industrial Batteries

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Safety

Following on from our previous blog post looking at considerations for the safe design of a battery charging station or room, this blog post will look at 12 safety tips when working with industrial batteries.

1. No smoking, sparks, naked flames or welding in close proximity to battery charging
It may seem slightly obvious but having any naked flame or spark near a battery charging station is an immense ignition risk, which could result in a major explosion.

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2. Ensure battery cover is open during charging
As batteries emit hydrogen gas during charging adequate ventilation is needed to disperse the gas otherwise it can build up in high concentration and become an ignition risk. Opening the battery cover will provide sufficient ventilation

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3. Keep vent caps on during charging
The vent caps have their own vents in them for allowing gas to escape. If the caps are open or removed, droplets of acid and water will form on the top of the battery causing electrical shorts to the case and frame of the battery. This can lead to hard to trace problems with your lift truck.

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4. Always switch charger off before disconnecting battery
It is imperative that all chargers are switched off before you disconnect a battery as live electricity can spark and become a source of ignition.

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5. Never unplug battery by pulling leads, always hold plug
Pulling leads out of a battery will eventually damage the leads

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6. Always allow charger to complete charge cycle
Disconnecting a battery before a charge cycle is finished when using a standard type charger can damage battery performance, thus reducing overall battery life. Opportunity charging is now possible when the appropriate charger is supplied with your battery. Speak to our sales team about more info

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7. Ensure battery top is clean and dry at all times
It is imperative that the top of the battery is clean and dry at all times as if it wet when connected to charge it becomes an electrocution hazard. The battery will also self-discharge due to voltage tracking. This can lead to an over discharged battery condition when return from extended shutdown periods. Having clean charging points also ensure a proper connection is maintained and that the battery charges correctly.

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8. Never discharge battery below 80% of its rated capacity
You lead acid traction battery is rated to either 1200 or 1500 cycle to 80% depth of discharge. When the battery is discharged beyond 80% the life cycle expectancy is significantly reduced, instead of lasting at least 5 years (single shift, 5 day a week operation), your battery may only last 2. Over discharging also causes electrical issues with your lift truck, overheating electrical circuits, bowing fuses etc. In some instances, the charger will not recognise the battery for a recharge and you will need expensive battery repairs.

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9. Always allow appropriate cooling period for battery
A proposed cooling down period should be observed as the battery temperature increases under charging. It becomes a potential hazard if it overheats; it also significantly reduces the life of the battery

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10. Inspect battery, leads and plugs for damage, report any faults immediately
A thorough inspection of all charging equipment should be conducted before each charge to ensure a proper charge is completed. Damaged equipment can lead to faults within the charging process.

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11. If no auto equalise charge, ensure battery is equalised at least once a month
You battery is made up of multiple 2V cells linked together to form a required voltage, 24, 36, 48 etc. Each of these cells are individuals, they charge and discharge at different rates. After a period of time, you will end up with varied voltages where some cells are fly charge, some half charged and some flat. If this is not controlled, your battery will fail early. This is where equalise charging comes in. Depending on your work application, the equalise requirements will be different. An equalise charge instigates at a timed period after a full charge has completed, usually on a weekend. A low current charge will occur for a set period of time. A low current is utilised so the fully charged cells do not get overcharged too much whilst the lower cells are catching up.

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12. Only top up once battery is fully charged
During discharge the electrolyte is absorbed into the plates, this effect is reversed when the battery is charged. If the battery is topped up at any stage other than fully charged you risk the battery spilling acid out during the next charge/charges. The reason we top up batteries is to replace the liquid that has evaporated during the charge cycles, not replace the liquid that has been absorbed into the plates during discharge.

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