While batteries are extremely useful, they can also be very dangerous. Some emit flammable gas, release acid, produce toxic fumes, short circuit and start fires, which is why their use, care, storage and disposal should be covered in your employee training. So whether you use large batteries for machinery and equipment or small ones for electronics and portable devices, the tips below will be a valuable addition to your safety program.
Large Battery Safety
- Always use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when working with large batteries.
- Keep them clean and dust-free. Spilled electrolyte from the battery mixing with dust can cause short circuits.
- Tailor your maintenance and inspection programs to each specific type of battery. Manufacturer’s guidelines are a good place to start.
- Vent battery compartments before performing any maintenance to clear out any hydrogen gas which may have accumulated.
- Disconnect batteries from power supplies prior to working on. Battery cut-off switches can be installed to make this easier.
- Make sure all employees who handle large batteries are trained to do so safely.
Nine-volt battery safety
Nine-volt batteries require special treatment since their positive and negative posts are close together. A metal object touching both exposed posts at the same time can cause a short circuit and even fire. That said, some of these tips apply to all types of small batteries as well.
- Don’t store 9-volt batteries in drawers near paperclips, coins, pens or other batteries.
- Keep all batteries in their original packaging until you’re ready to use them.
- Cover the posts of loose 9-volt batteries with masking, duct, or electrical tape to keep them from coming in contact with metal objects.
- Store all batteries someplace where they won’t be tossed around. Ensure they’re kept upright.
- Don’t dispose of any batteries in the trash — especially 9-volts, which can catch fire if they come in contact with a metal object.
- Check online to find locations near you where you can properly dispose of all types of batteries.
Taking the time to familiarize yourself and your employees with the safety procedures for handling batteries will help keep them, and your business, safer.