How to Avoid the Hazards of Hydrogen Gas in the Forklift Battery Room

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By Jennifer Taylor March 19, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

Personnel Safe

The lift truck battery room is a very specialized part of the warehouse and has some very specific potential dangers. One of the biggest dangers is the risk of hydrogen gas – a byproduct of the normal lead-acid battery charging cycle – accumulating and concentrating in the workspace.

At a concentration of 4%, hydrogen gas can ignite, and in the worst-case scenarios, hydrogen gas can explode. Because of this, every battery room must have proper detection and ventilation equipment to keep the hazards of hydrogen gas at a minimum.

To help protect personnel and keep your warehouse's battery handling equipment safe from damage, be sure to follow these guidelines for reducing the hazards associated with hydrogen:

Invest in a hydrogen detection device

A hydrogen detection device is able to monitor the levels of hydrogen gas present within the battery room and alert your personnel when there is an unsafe hydrogen level. These detectors can also be connected to a ventilation system to automatically adjust battery room exhaust accordingly and even shut off a charging system to prevent fire or explosion.

Follow all battery room ventilation requirements

One of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration's (OSHA) most important regulations for battery room safety involves equipping the battery room with the proper ventilation. This is because forklift battery maintenance areas often can be enclosed, with little airflow. If hydrogen gas builds up, a catastrophe can occur. Having an OSHA-approved ventilation system installed will circulate fresh air into the battery room, diffusing any hydrogen present in the air.

Install an ultraviolet/infrared flame detector

Did you know that a hydrogen fire is mostly invisible to the naked eye? It's also very difficult to physically feel its heat, meaning one of your personnel could walk into hydrogen fire before even knowing it. Despite being difficult to detect, hydrogen fire burns at an extremely high temperature – even hotter than a gasoline fire. It's imperative to have an ultraviolet/infrared flame detector that can see a hydrogen fire and alert personnel of its presence. In addition to these flame detectors, it's also important to have the right fire protection and extinguishing equipment present within easy reach the battery room.

Protecting the battery room and its personnel is a top priority that can require specialized equipment and procedures like hydrogen gas detection and ventilation systems. Share your tips and experiences with hydrogen in the battery room in the comments below.

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