Many important workplace tools, such as forklifts, run on electricity and need to be charged periodically. The charging stations that are used for this contain very large chemical batteries that store the electricity that comes from a wall socket. There are many hazards associated with these batteries that workers need to understand in order to keep themselves and their co-workers safe.
Toward the end of the charging process, batteries can produce explosive hydrogen and oxygen fumes. Employers should make sure that there are multi-purpose, dry chemical, and carbon dioxide fire extinguishers available. There should also be a supply of soda ash nearby, which can be dumped on chemicals to neutralize them. It is very important to place charging stations in areas that are very well-ventilated to avoid the build-up of hydrogen gases.
Batteries contain sulfuric acid that is very corrosive. This substance can splash onto workers and irritate eyes and skin. It's important to wear proper safety products including safety glasses, protective clothing, and chemical-resistant gloves when handling them. An eyewash station should be placed near a charging station so that staff members who have gotten chemicals in their eyes can immediately flush them.
Trained workers should be the only ones to charge and change batteries in the charging station. These employees should always be trained on all proper emergency procedures, including acid splash, fires, and how to use emergency eyewash and shower facilities. Proper safety protocol will help prevent this risk, which may otherwise cause chemicals to spill, explosions to occur, and fires to start.