Why You Should Never Lift Forklift Batteries with Hooks and Chains — and What to Do Instead

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By Solus Group Marketing Team September 9, 2019

When a forklift battery compartment isn’t set up for side-extraction, there’s only one way to change the battery: Hoist it into the air. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about lifting forklift batteries.

The wrong way is to attach chains directly to the lifting eyes, convenient though it may seem. The right way — according to battery manufacturers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, among others — is to use a Battery Lifting Beam designed for that purpose.

Here are just a few of the reasons you should never lift a forklift battery with chains alone:

  • Lifting forklift batteries with chains and hooks can damage the batteries. The two hooks in the lifting eyes on the battery case push inward on the battery, potentially damaging internal components.
  • Chains allow batteries to swing too much. Forklift batteries can weigh several tons, and operators must guide them manually during change-out. The additional range of motion provided by chains suspended between lifting eyes create a greater risk of impact and injury.
  • Chains and hooks may not be rated for the weight of the particular battery you’re trying to lift. Chains are an improvised solution for lifting forklift batteries, which means they may not be rated to lift the incredible weight of a particular battery.
  • Metal chains and hooks are conductive, leading to risk of accidental discharge on contact with battery terminals. Forklift batteries are capable of discharging any time there’s a connection between terminals. Metal chains are conductive and can easily provide this connection, leading to shocks in the worst case, and loss of battery capacity in the best.
  • OSHA regulations may require the use of a Battery Lifting Beam. If none of the previous arguments sways you, take it from OSHA. Standard 1910.178(g)(4) states that “a conveyor, overhead hoist, or equivalent material handling equipment shall be provided for handling batteries.”

While this regulation doesn’t mention Battery Lifting Beams by name, an OSHA eTool clarifies that this standard does suggest operators should “use a lifting beam or equivalent material handling equipment when lifting the battery. Do not use a chain with two hooks. This may cause distortion and internal damage.”

The safest way to change a forklift battery in a vertical-extraction application is with a Gantry Crane (or similar lifting device) and a dedicated Battery Lifting Beam. Battery Lifting Beams distribute the weight of the battery across the entire length of the unit, preventing damage from center-focused pressure. They’re made of wood, which is naturally nonconductive and low- to no-maintenance. Options like Grab Handles and Fixed Position Hooks can make handling batteries even safer and more efficient.

Solus Group offers Battery Lifting Beams in a variety of lengths, lifting capacities, and hook types. Browse the options here, or call us at 314-696-0200 to place an order.

References:

Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) Types & Fundamentals: Electric.OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 14 Aug. 2019.

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