Powered industrial trucks hoist heavy loads on job sites and in factories and warehouses. Commonly known as forklifts, these machines are highly efficient. With an increased awareness of using renewable resources, many businesses are switching their forklifts to battery power. That means that you need to have a forklift battery charger on your premises and that your employees need battery charger safety training.
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Laws Regarding Battery Charger Safety
The United States Office of Safety and Health Administration requires all forklift operators to have special training in how to operate the equipment. Additional training is mandatory for persons operating the forklift battery charger.
Powered industrial trucks use large batteries filled with lead plates immersed in a 65 per cent water and 35 per cent sulphuric acid mixture. The lead plates and electrolytes combine to form electricity. As the forklift battery charger operates, it produces a highly volatile mix of hydrogen and oxygen gases.
Personal Protective Equipment
It is important that the person in charge of the forklift battery charger wear personal protective equipment (PPE.) This includes eye protection for both the front and sides of the eyes or full-face protection. Protective gloves are standard, as are steel-toed shoes. Additional PPE required by OSHA includes an eye wash station placed within 10 seconds of the battery charger. The area should be clear of any impediments and clearly marked.
Forklift Battery Charger Station
Because the batteries in powered industrial trucks may weigh as much as a ton, the person in charge of them must know how to safely lift the batteries from the vehicle. Typically another forklift hoists the depleted battery from its forklift and sets it on the charger. Battery carts are another option for positioning the battery on its battery charger. Because gases can build while the battery charges, good ventilation around the charger is a must. While local ventilation may work, an exhaust system is a more desirable option. The employee trained in charging batteries must know when to open and close caps on the batteries as well as the proper procedure to safely add more electrolyte mixture.
Other Safety Considerations
While battery charger safety is typically the responsibility of a specially trained individual, all employees who use the forklifts are responsible for being knowledgeable of the safety routines involved with safely transferring and using batteries. The battery charging station should have clean, visible safety warning signs especially "No Smoking" warnings. No one should enter that area without proper permission and PPE. All employees should know how to use the emergency eye wash station and should know whom to call in case of an emergency.
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