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12 Safety Tips When Working With Industrial Batteries

Filed under: Batteries

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.
no naked flames in close proximity to battery charging

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.
ensure battery cover is open during charging

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.
vent caps on when charging

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.
ensure charger is off before battery disconnection

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

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.
always allow charger to complete charge cycle

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.
ensure battery top is clean and dry at all times

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.
never discharge battery below 80% of rated capacity

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.
always allow cooling period for battery

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.
inspect battery leads and plugs for damage

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.
ensure battery is equalised once a month

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.
only top up once battery is fully charged

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Next entry: 5 Key Safety Accessories for your Materials Handling Equipment

Previous entry: Designing a safe forklift battery charging room


Checking the equipment to ensure it will perform as it should is a good idea. It’s best to take the time to do an inspection then risk any issues. It may help to assign someone to check the equipment before and after each run.

Kendall Everett
July 14, 2016 - 7:55 am

I didn’t know that we shouldn’t discharge a battery lower than 80 percent. I need to tell my boss about this so that he can pay more attention in the future. Do you know where I can buy these kinds of batteries? Thank you in advance!

July 19, 2016 - 6:08 am

Industrial batteries, and probably just industrial equipment in general, are more complicated than many people realize. There is also a bigger risk due to bigger and more complicated machines. Thank you for going over the safety concerns, do you think that if I were to hire someone with this type of equipment I should monitor the safety precautions in any way?

Brooke McAvoy
July 22, 2016 - 4:33 am

It’s a good idea to inspect the battery before charging it like you mentioned. If you can catch an issue before you place it on the charger or to be used, you’ll be able to fix it or replace it before it causes damage to your equipment. Having a spare battery as a backup would help save time if you do need to replace the old battery.

Kendall Everett
October 12, 2016 - 8:16 am

                      It makes sense that you would need to be careful with your batteries! It would be bad if you didn’t have a vent open while they are charging. If there’s nowhere for the gas to escape, problems could happen!

Braden Bills
January 26, 2017 - 1:07 am

    How often should the batteries be filled?  And thanks for this blog, I learned a few things today about my batteries.  I want them to run a very long time!  smile  Oh, you said they need to be clean and dry, is there anything special you should clean them with?  I’ve just been using a very light mixture of dish soap and water.  Thanks again.               

May 12, 2017 - 12:22 am

        I couldn’t agree more with tip # 1 about not smoking or doing any activity that may involve sparks or flames when working with industrial batteries. It is important that you charge your batteries in a safe enclosure to make sure that there wouldn’t be any untoward incident such as a fire. These are highly flammable and can potentially become a health hazard. If I were working on industrial batteries myself, I would make sure to keep this in mind. Thanks.

Bobby Saint
March 16, 2018 - 10:53 am

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