Ametek: Keeping an eye on batteries and chargers is key to forklift and warehouse safety

Implementing and reinforcing simple safety guidelines can reduce the risk of injury.

By ·

In observation of National Forklift Safety Day on June 12, Ametek Prestolite Power, a leading industrial battery charging solutions provider, is reminding material handling industry participants at all levels about the need to put safety first in their forklift fleet – as well as their batteries and chargers – within all operations.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the most common forklift injuries occur when workers are hit, struck, crushed or pinned by the vehicle or fall from one. Also at the top of the list are burns and electrocutions resulting from accidental fires, explosions and mishaps involving lift truck batteries and chargers.

“Electric forklift batteries and charging operations are extremely safe when properly implemented and all relevant safety procedures and maintenance regimens are followed,” says Jeff Harrison, Business Manager for AMETEK Prestolite Power.  “Above all, training and preparation is key to ensuring the highest level of safety possible for your personnel and property.”

In addition to ensuring a warehouse has proper in-house safety signage, forklift operators need to make sure to assign staff members to a safety team to ensure compliance with local, state and federal regulations. OSHA, for instance, points to four primary hazards associated with batteries and chargers:

● Weight – Lift truck batteries are heavy and pose a threat when suspended by battery handling equipment.
● Caustic fluids – Electrolytes in lead-acid battery cells contain hazardous levels of sulfuric acid.
● Gasses – During charging, batteries emit hydrogen gas and when levels get too high they can burst into flames or explode.
● Exposure to electricity – Active battery cells hold an electrical charge, which can short circuit when touched by an employee, causing electrical burns. Arcing also increases the risk of explosion.

The following is a set of guidelines for helping to reduce forklift- and battery charging-related accidents:
1) Separate the battery changing area or “battery room” from general warehouse traffic and make sure it is adequately ventilated.
2) Protect battery handling equipment with highly visible structural barriers and floors that are level, flat and acid-resistant.
3) Equip each battery room with battery wash and eye wash stations, spill kits and hydrogen gas detectors. Have available plenty of water, soda ash, baking soda and CO2, dry chemical or foam fire extinguishers.
4) Wear the right protective gear, including safety goggles, face shields, rubber or neoprene gloves and aprons.
5) Remove anything metallic, including jewelry, and keep metal objects away from uncovered batteries.
6) Take precautions with flammable materials.
7) Check electrolyte and water levels before beginning active charging, but don’t add water until after charging is complete.
8) When mixing the electrolyte, always pour acid into water, not the other way around, and pour slowly.
9) Keep the charger turned off and unplugged while attaching or detaching clamp connections.
10) For batteries with sealed vents, don’t exceed 25 amperes of current.
11) If the battery heats up, or if vents start leaking fluid, turn off the charger and start over with a lower rate of charge.
12) Keep water levels at the indicated height, but only add the deionized water after recharging is complete.
13) Record all levels in a designated service log.
14) Have regular preventative maintenance or have a qualified dealer perform that service.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Latest Whitepaper
Making the Case for Warehouse Consultants
Benefits for logistics/operations managers, CFOs, and COOs all lead to safer workplaces, lower costs, and happier customers.
Download Today!
From the January 2019 Modern Material Handling Issue
One of Canada’s largest retail brands took bulk handling to new levels of automation and efficiency at its new Ontario DC.
Inside Canadian Tire Distribution Center: Design for flexibility
Continuous improvement in action
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
The Impact of e-Commerce on an Organization’s Fulfillment Operations
This exclusive research study, conducted by Modern Materials Handling on behalf of Honeywell, investigates the consequences e-commerce has on an organization’s fulfillment operation.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Systems Report: Bulking up at Canadian Tire
One of Canada’s largest retail brands took bulk handling to new levels of automation and...
Resilience and innovation at Gap Inc.
Just months before the start of the 2016 holiday season, one of Gap Inc.’s distribution centers...

System Report: Luxottica keeps it simple
Simplification and consolidation drove the design of a new 1.1-million-square-foot logistics campus...
Goya Foods’ secret ingredient: Lift trucks
The leader in Hispanic food and beverage products puts a variety of lift trucks and racks to work in...