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Shop Safety

Battery Maintenance

Operating personnel are often exposed to the possibility of  painful chemical burns, explosive gases and toxic chemicals when servicing batteries.  The following precautions are essential in preventing personal injury:


A. Nickel-cadmium and silver-zinc batteries should be serviced in an area isolated from lead-acid batteries.


B. The area must be ventilated to prevent accumulation of acid fumes that may be harmful and can contaminate the nickel-cadmium or silver-zinc battery shop area.


C. When acid and potassium hydroxide electrolyte type batteries are handled in the same shop, the specific equipment for the two kinds of batteries should be kept separate and carefully labeled.


D. Tools or metal parts should not be placed on a battery or stored in such a position that they may fall on a battery.


E. Workers should not wear rings or other hand jewelry. 


F. Lifting devices and hand trucks should be provided for handling heavy batteries.


G. When charging batteries:

  1.  Lead-acid battery charging equipment should be located in properly ventilated rooms.  Excessive charging of lead-acid batteries should not be permitted as explosive hydrogen gas can be generated.  
  2.  Charging benches and tables should be constructed of or coated with acid impervious coatings. 

H. When handling electrolyte, shop personnel should wear protective chemical goggles or full-face shields, rubber gloves and aprons. A safety shower and eyewash should be within 100', tested and tagged at least twice a year. 


I. When mixing acid solutions the following should be observed:

  1.  Always pour electrolyte into water.  Never pour water into electrolyte as the heat of dilution will cause water to boil and spatter. 
  2.  Have water immediately available during diluting operations.  
  3.  Use tilter to pour acid from a carboy.  
  4.  Siphon acid by a rubber suction ball.  
  5.  Acid burns should be treated with baking soda and water.

J. Battery Charging Rooms and Areas:  

All of the following criteria apply to rooms or areas with battery banks whose aggregate capacity at the eight-hour discharge rate exceeds five kilowatt hours (KWH). Only items 2, 4, 10, 12 and 13 apply to smaller KWH facilities.

  1. The room or area should be well ventilated to prevent accumulation of explosive gases or toxic vapors.  
  2. Racks and trays must be resistant to the electrolyte and they must be designed to permit free access for servicing batteries.  
  3. Floors should be resistant to or protected from electrolyte accumulations.  
  4. Materials or equipment should be provided for neutralizing or flushing spilled electrolyte.  
  5. Eye protection that provides side and frontal protection, aprons and rubber gloves should be utilized by employees.
  6. Emergency shower and eye wash facilities should be provided for any area where batteries are filled with electrolyte.  These units should be flow tested and tagged at least twice a year.
  7. The battery bank should be located in an area of minimal personnel and vehicular traffic. Separate rooms are desirable.  
  8. No smoking signs should be posted in the area.
  9. Fire extinguishers should be provided and inspected monthly.
  10. Cells of the unsealed, jar type should not be used.
  11. Employees assigned to work with batteries should be instructed in emergency procedures such as coping with electrolyte spills.
  12. Electrolyte should be mixed in a well ventilated area.  Acid or alkaline shall be poured gradually while stirring into the water.  Never pour water into acid.  
  13. Electrolyte should never be poured into metal containers or stirred with metal objects.
  14. When taking specific gravity readings, an electrolyte resistant gloved finger should be placed over the end of the hydrometer while moving it from cell to cell to avoid splashing or dripping the electrolyte.