If you want to keep your forklifts running at peak efficiency, you must wash your batteries. But washing forklift batteries isn’t without its challenges. The runoff from the process is full of acid traces and heavy metals that aren’t safe for your employees.
Luckily, there are some simple solutions to increase safety during battery washes. By following these tips, you can keep your employees well, your costs down, and your operation doing what it does best: working.
Provide plenty of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Any employee who uses a battery wash station needs to be outfitted with certain articles of PPE to keep them safe. That’s not just a good idea, it’s also the law.
Regulation 1926.441 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration states that “face shields, aprons, and rubber gloves shall be provided for workers handling acids or batteries.” Acid-resistant boots should also be provided. BHS offers Personal Protective Kits (PK) to keep your employees safe, hassle-free.
Always contain wash water and overspray with a walled battery wash station.
Regardless of your operation’s size, if you’re washing batteries, you need a battery wash station. For less-frequent washing needs, manual wash stations keep wastewater contained and prevent overspray. However, for larger fleets, an automated washing station can be a powerful tool for reducing downtime. Plus, because the washing process happens inside the machine, your workers’ exposure is greatly reduced with an automated wash cabinet.
Improve ergonomics during battery washes.
As with any workplace task, use equipment that fits the job of washing batteries to the worker. Ergonomic innovations are more efficient, they keep your workforce happy, and they can save you costly worker’s compensation costs.
Position battery wash stations at the proper height so that your workers don’t have to reach uncomfortably, and ensure that the floor retains traction even when it’s wet. After all, slips and strains can have a major effect on your business’s bottom line.
Check battery vent caps before getting started.
If a battery’s vent caps are loose or missing, you can seriously disrupt the electrolyte ratio when you spray the case down. Even worse, loose vent caps can raise the hydrogen level in the battery room to the point of danger; nobody wants an explosion.
Dry batteries thoroughly before charging or using them.
While ionized water (and you are using ionized water, right?) isn’t a terrific conductor of electricity, it can still wreak havoc on electrical systems. You definitely don’t want to introduce moisture into your forklifts or battery chargers.
The benefits of washing forklift batteries far outweigh any operational challenges; regular washes can double the lifespan of a battery. Plus, dirty batteries may cause problems in a forklift’s electrical system.
With a few common-sense procedures and the right safety equipment, you can keep your forklift fleet in reliable power — without adding risk for battery room staff. You don’t want to think about the alternative.
29 CFR 1926.441, Batteries and Battery Charging. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
Gooley, Toby. “Battery Room Confidential.” DCVelocity. Agile Business Media, LLC., 22 July 2013. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.
“Safe Handling Tips for Servicing Flooded Lead Acid Batteries.” USbattery. US Battery Manufacturing Company, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2016.