When handling and using lead acid batteries it is important that the correct safety procedures are observed. This involves everything from owning the appropriate safety equipment, to the training of personnel. This guide will detail the main hazards relating to batteries and identify the safety procedures that should be put in place to minimize the risk and consequences of these hazards in accordance to the ‘Consumer Protection Act of 1987’.
Batteries contain sulphuric acid which is a hazardous material; it is poisonous as well as corrosive. If the battery is misused then the acid may leak. If this comes into contact with the skin or eyes then burns could occur. To avoid this, the following measures should always be taken to reduce the risk of sulphuric acid escaping:
If acid escape does occur then the following actions should be taken:
Contact with eyes: Immediately wash eyes for a period of at least ten minutes with clean water and seek medical attention.
Contact with skin: Soak the affected area with water and remove any contaminated clothing. If irritation persists then seek medical attention.
Ingestion: Drink as much water as possible and seek urgent medical attention
Spillage: Wash away with water, for large spillages dispose of in a suitable acid resistant container.
Short circuiting of battery terminals can cause burns and fire hazards, the electrical aspects of batteries can also be a hazard when being charged from the mains. Faulty charging equipment can cause electrical shocks as can poor charging practises. In order to avoid these risks, the following measures should be taken:
If any electrical related accidents do occur, the following action should be taken:
Burns: Apply a dry sterile dressing and seek medical help.
Electric Shock: Approach person with care. If the individual is clear of the conductor then, with caution, switch off equipment or break the current. If the individual is still attached to the conductor do not touch with bare hands. If possible use a suitable insulating material to detach the conductor from the victim. If necessary, summon help and then perform artificial respiration until it arrives.
Using an incorrect method for jump starting a vehicle can lead to battery explosion, fire and damage to the vehicle. Therefore always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when attempting a jump start.
Batteries are heavy and incorrect lifting procedures of said batteries can result in damage to muscles as well as the possibility of dropping the battery. To avoid these injuries, the correct lifting procedure should always be used. Where applicable the lifting handles on the battery should be used.
No attempt should be made to repair a damaged or faulty battery to do so is extremely dangerous.