How to Safely Change a Forklift Battery

Changing a battery seems like a menial task, however it can present a wide range of hazards and troubles if not done correctly. Have no fear, adhering to proper protocol and practices will make any novice an expert in changing a battery even in an advanced instrument such as a forklift. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration governs all aspects of the workplace to ensure all employees are safeguarded in performance of the daily duties. This includes changing a forklift battery. In fact, OSHA has provided tips of their own to help you execute this routine maintenance task. For those looking to make the most of the material handling operation and spend less time on tasks such as these, here is a comprehensive guide on how to safely change a forklift battery:

How To Set Up A Charging Area – In the case of changing a forklift battery, the work area and charging station for that matter does not consist of a few wires and a sheet placed below the vehicle. In fact, there are several components that are required as an essential portion of the operation. These goods, include a fire extinguisher, eye wash sink, and neutralization mechanism. All three of these areas are pertinent in that any charging or replacement activity should go south. In regards to the event of any battery acid splashing into the eyes, it is important that the affected party rinse their eyes with warm water for at least five minutes and seek medical attention thereafter.  

Use Personal Protective Equipment – Embellishing upon the first bullet point, personal protective equipment is a rudimentary portion of battery maintenance. Equipping rubber gloves and goggles will protect the skin and eyes from the corrosive battery acid which can cause severe burns. Moreover, this is further reinforced by a call to use aprons and articles of clothing that cover all areas of the body. Battery acid is so volatile that it is recommended that only be deionized water be used in proximity of the device due to the fact it can cause a pyrolytic reaction. The bottom line is you don’t want to come into contact with this substance.

Ensure Conformance with OSHA Guidelines  – OSHA is very stringent in enforcing best practices and continuous improvement in this facet. First and foremost, smoking should be prohibited in the vicinity of the charging station. This is for a variety of reasons. Most significantly, this is derived from potential interactions with hydrogen that can become literally explosive. With this being stated, conformance to OSHA guidelines supports the mandatory donning of PPE and adequate ventilation in the area of operation. Furthermore, from a metallurgical perspective any metal jewelry or tools should be kept away from uncovered tops of the battery terminals to prevent sparks and potential ignition of a chemical fire. Adhering to these directives does not just limit risk, mitigate vulnerabilities, or reduce the onset of fines but they are proven to effectively and efficiently facilitate the safe change of any forklift battery.

About Tom Reddon

Tom has been involved in the forklift industry since 1986. He loves doing research, blogging, and speaking about forklifts. You can contact Tom on his Twitter or Google+ profiles.

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