(Updated for 2021)
5 essential interventions to create a safer battery charging room
Electric forklift trucks bring many benefits to the warehouse. The environment becomes cleaner and environmental noise is substantially reduced. Besides, in many European countries it is no longer permitted to drive diesel trucks inside.
Electric forklift batteries need to be charged from time to time. To guarantee a shift without too much disruption, many companies create a battery room to ensure batteries are loaded properly and ready to go in order to minimise downtime.
But what are some of the potential risks for a battery room?
A few examples of risks relating to battery rooms include:
- Gases can emerge when loading the forklift batteries.
- Overheating can occur due to connecting charging equipment with the wrong extension cables.
- Short-circuit due to damaged connecting cables
- Loading devices located near the overhead doors can give an increased risk of collision damage.
- Some charging stations are placed near storage racking with potentially flammable goods.
- Risk of explosion and fire.
With many threats that can cause harm to workers and damage to the warehouse, every precaution needs to be taken to minimise the risks.
Five ways to increase safety in the battery room
- Make sure your staff wear personal protective equipment. This includes approved face shields and goggles, acid-resistant gloves, slip- and acid-resistant footwear with a protected toe, sufficient fire extinguishers and adequate amounts of neutralizer.
- In case of an accident there should be an ample choice of must-have equipment: eye wash and shower systems.
- Control the air. The battery charging process produces gases that may create adverse exposures for employees, so you must install a good exhaust system. Even better, hire a certified industrial hygienist to assess the situation.
- Only allow people in the room that have followed the appropriate training. Employees who change forklift batteries should receive formal documented initial and periodical training. This could include operator/changer responsibilities, required procedures, inspection requirements, care and storage of protective equipment and safe work practices.
- Check, check , check. Have regular inspections preferably carried out by professionals. Battery racks, for example, should be frequently inspected for damage, corrosion, weld/fastener quality and roller functionality. The chargers also need regular inspection.
You should always consult with professionals about the best arrangements for your forklift battery room.