Battery room safety is everyone’s business. Maybe you just got certified as a forklift operator, or maybe your facility just made the leap from gas to electric power. Either way, you'll need to understand a few things about your business' battery charging and changing area to ensure safe change-outs every time.
Battery room safety starts with preparation. Consider the hazards. Sure, forklift batteries are large and heavy, but with a state-of-the-art battery handling system, those concerns are taken care of. A battery room ventilation system will get rid of any excess hydrogen in the area.
Perhaps the greatest hazard in working with forklift batteries (beyond the above-listed, of course) is the presence of electrolyte. This caustic mixture of sulfuric acid and water can cause chemical burns. Even worse, if it splashes into the eyes, it can seriously and irreparably damage vision.
You may have heard horror stories about massive fines issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If you take safety seriously at your facility, though, you have nothing to fear from OSHA.
If, on the other hand, you're reporting the same sort of accident over and over, you may indeed receive a visit from the OSHA inspector. Agents look for recurring problems when deciding where to stage an inspection.
Let's start with the good news: Injury rates in the warehousing industry began to dip in recent years. Employers in that sector reported fewer injuries and illnesses in 2015 than the prior year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fewer material handling workers lost their lives in accidents in 2015, as well.