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Lead Acid Battery Maintenance and Safety Protocol
Lead-Acid batteries are physically large batteries that contain lead plates in a solution of acid to create electricity. They are a common power for many applications. Nationally, 2300 people are injured each year using lead acid batteries. Acid burns to the face and eyes comprise about 50% of these injuries as these batteries can easily explode. The remaining injuries were mostly due to lifting and dropping batteries as they are quite heavy.
Lead-Acid Battery Basics:
- The electrolyte is a solution of sulfuric acid (35%) and water (65%). This solution can cause chemical burns to the skin and especially the eyes.
- During normal operation, water is lost from a non-sealed (Flooded) battery due to evaporation.
- During charging, lead acid batteries produce hydrogen and oxygen gases (highly flammable/ explosive) as electrolysis occurs.
- Many lead acid explosions are believed to occur when electrolytes are below the plates in the battery and thus, allowing space for hydrogen/oxygen to accumulate. When the battery is engaged, it may create a spark that ignites the accumulated gases and causes the bettery to explode.
- Always store or recharge batteries in a well ventilated area away from sparks or open flame.
- Damaged lead acid batteries shall be kept in properly labeled acid-resistant secondary containment structure.
- Use only chargers that are designed for the battery being charged.
- Always keep the lead acid battery vent caps securely in place.
- If acid gets into your eyes, flush immediately with water for 15 minutes, and then promptly seek medical attention.
- If acid gets on your skin, rinse the affected area immediately with large amounts of water. Seek medical attention if the chemical burns appear to be second degree or better.
- Emegency wash stations should be located near lead-acid battery storage and charging areas.
- Prevent open flames, sparks or electrical arcs in charging area.
Required Safety Equipment in the Battery Charging Area:
- Plumbed tepid water safety shower and eye wash station.
- Personal or Portable eyewash stations may be installed in the area immediate to the battery charging, if plumbed units can not be installed.
- Non-vented safety goggles.
- Face Shield (considered secondary but mandatory safety protection)
- Acid resistant gloves.
- Apron (acid resistant)
- Steel-toed boots or foot guards if the battery is being lifted