General Orientation

Rev. November 10, 2020

Battery Safety

This standard provides an overview of the minimum expectations for persons performing work on Caron Equipment business. Contractors must ensure their standards will meet or exceed the information in this document.

Battery Safety Policy

(Document Web Link)

Introduction

Lead-acid batteries are built with several individual cells containing layers of lead plates immersed in sulphuric acid. When the sulphuric acid meets the lead plate, energy is produced.

 

The battery will have a negative and a positive terminal on the top or side of the battery and will have vent caps on top. The purpose of the vent caps is to allow for the escape of gases formed when the battery is charging. In addition, the vent caps allow water and acid levels of the battery to be checked during maintenance.

Lead-acid batteries can produce explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen gases when they are being charged. If ventilation is poor, the escaping hydrogen creates an explosive atmosphere around the battery. Always keep sparks, flames, burning cigarettes, and other sources of ignition away from the battery recharging area because the gas can be ignited. The result of an explosion could be severe burns and/or fire.

General Safety when working with Batteries

When working with batteries it is very important to know where the deluge showers (where applicable) and eyewash stations are located. In addition, knowing proper first aid treatment for dealing with acid splashes is also essential.

The following are some useful practices when working with batteries:

  • keep metal tools and jewelry away from batteries (to prevent short circuits)

  • when handling batteries, make sure that metal objects do not fall across the terminal

  • inspect the battery for any defective cables, corroded cable connectors, corroded/broken battery terminals, cracked cases or covers, etc.

  • always use the proper wrench size when tightening cable clamp nuts

  • do not use excessive force when tightening connections to the battery terminals

  • loosen corrosion from battery terminals and carefully brush it off; use a tapered brush when cleaning the battery terminals and cable clamps

  • clearly mark the positive and negative terminals when the battery cables are removed to ensure that reconnected correctly

  • clean your hands with soap and water immediately after working with batteries

  • slowly pour concentrated acid into water; do not add water into acid

  • use non-metallic containers and funnels

  • use extreme care to avoid spilling or splashing the sulphuric acid solution

  • neutralize any spilled or splashed sulphuric acid solution with baking soda and rinse the area with clean water

  • use self-levelling filler that automatically fills the battery to a predetermined level - never fill cells above the level indicator

  • clean up spilled acid safely – first with a solution of sodium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to neutralize it, and then with large volumes of water to rinse the area

 

Handling Batteries

Lead-acid batteries can be very heavy, therefore, it is very important to ensure proper lifting and carrying techniques to avoid any injuries.

  • get your body as close as possible to the battery before lifting or lowering it

  • bend your knees slightly before lifting or lowering the battery

  • do not lift a heavy battery alone – ask for help from a co-worker or use a lifting device

  • use the battery carry straps to lift or carry a battery

  • carry the battery close to your body and at the center of your body

  • do not twist; first lift the battery and then move your feet to move the battery

  • watch for slippery floors and obstructions as you move

  • when carrying the battery, place a clean cloth or rag between the battery and your clothing to absorb any spilled acid

 

Working with Battery Acid

Wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) – specifically splash-proof goggles, an apron, and rubber gloves - a face shield may also be necessary when handling certain batteries. Store acid away from hot locations and direct sunlight.

  • if the battery is not maintenance-free, remove the filler caps to vent hydrogen gas

  • stand at arm’s length when removing battery caps

  • recheck the fluid level after the battery has been recharged

  • if water needs to be added, use distilled, not tap water

 

Charging Batteries

  • make sure that you have been trained how to charge the battery

  • wear safety gloves and goggles

  • a safety shower and an eyewash station should be installed in a battery-charging area

  • charge batteries in a properly ventilated area

  • ensure there is an ABC-type fire extinguisher nearby

  • make sure the power is shut off at the charger before connecting or removing the cable clamps

  • before recharging a battery, check the electrolyte level

  • if the electrolyte is covering the top of the plates, do not add more water

  • if the battery has been outside in cold weather, make sure that the battery is not frozen

  • connect the negative cable to the frame or motor block instead of the battery terminal

  • check that the battery ventilation holes are clean and clean to allow the hydrogen gas to escape and prevent the battery from exploding

  • if any irritation persists, repeat flushing and see a doctor immediately

Jumpstarting Machinery

There’s nothing more frustrating than heading out on a cold winter day and your machine won’t start because the battery is dead. Winter is often the time when older batteries show their age and reach the end of their life. However, you may be able to safely jump start the equipment and have the battery checked by a mechanic. This procedure will explain how to safely jump start a discharged equipment battery.

Standard lead-acid batteries that come with original equipment on most equipment have a service life of approximately five years. Batteries usually reach the end of their life under extreme weather conditions – either hot or most often cold.

To jump start a discharged battery from a good (donor) battery, park both vehicles close to each other but not touching. Do not have the donor vehicle running during this process because it could cause electrical damage if there is an electrical surge while the cables are connected.

Open the battery compartments and locate the battery terminals, which may be enclosed by a plastic cover. Open the cover to expose the terminals and wipe off any excess corrosion with a rag. Do not attempt to jump start a damaged or leaking battery as this could cause a spark or fire. On vehicles with a battery located in the trunk, under a seat, or use side battery terminals, you should find a red plastic cover labeled as positive (+) in the engine compartment. This is there for you to make the positive booster connection.

Use heavy duty 2-gauge booster cables to connect the batteries in the following order:

  • start by connecting the positive (red) cable clamp to the positive terminal on the dead battery

  • connect the other positive clamp to the positive terminal on the good battery

  • while at the good battery, connect the negative (black) clamp to the negative (-) battery terminal

  • connect the other negative clamp to a bare metal part of the engine block on the dead equipment

Note: Some machinery has designated negative (-) ground spots in the engine bay.

Be sure to make this last connection as far away from the battery as possible because a dead battery will emit hydrogen gas that could ignite if there is a slip with the clamps causing a spark. Also, be aware of moving parts in the engine bay (such as belts) to ensure that the booster cables and clamps are clear and unobstructed. For your protection, be sure to wear safety classes and gloves when making the connections.

Now that you’ve completed the connected circuit, wait a few minutes for the voltage to transfer from the good battery to the discharged, then start it up with all the accessory lights and power features turned off to minimize the power load. Once the vehicle is running, disconnect the booster cables in the reverse order: negative off the boosted machine, negative off the helper machine, positive off the helper machine, positive off the boosted machine.

10.5 

Allow the boosted machine to run for at least ten minutes to partially charge the battery before operating. If the equipment does not restart on its own after operating it for a lengthy period, notify your supervisor and have your battery, alternator and electrical system checked by a licensed mechanic.

The preferred method to boost equipment batteries is with a booster pack; when this option is available. To boost the equipment battery, plug the booster pack into a power outlet, connect the positive (red) grip to the positive lead on the battery and then the negative grip to a bare metal part on the engine block. Then turn the power switch on the booster pack, wait a few minutes for the voltage to reach the battery, and start the machine. This is the safer option as it does not require helper machinery and leaves less room for error.

Don’t be surprised if an aging battery has difficulty starting your equipment in extremely cold conditions. Batteries can lose over half of their starting capacity in severe cold so if you’re experiencing weak starts, notify your supervisor and have your equipment’s electrical system checked before you’re in a situation where you have to have your battery boosted. It’s better to be proactive than having to pull out the booster cables on the coldest (or hottest) day of the year.

Jumpstarting a 24-volt system with a 12-volt supply

A battery that delivers the correct voltage is essential for almost all equipment. Deliver too much voltage and components either move or spin too fast, or they overheat and burn out. Deliver insufficient voltage and moving components slow down, or don't work at all. Jump-starting a 24-volt system from a 12-volt system won’t work if only one 12-volt battery is available, but if the 12-volt machine has two batteries, it becomes possible to produce a 24-volt supply.

  1. position the 12-volt truck as close to the 24-volt machine as possible. Orientate the equipment so their batteries are as close to each other as possible. For example, if both machines have side mounded batteries, park them side by side, and if the batteries are housed in the engine compartment, park them nose to nose.

  2. access the batteries in the 24-volt equipment. There will be two 12-volt batteries linked in parallel that deliver 24 volts with the combined current capacity of both batteries. Put on appropriate work gloves. Starting with the battery terminal connected to "ground," use a wrench to disconnect the cables linking the two batteries to the machine. When completed, both batteries are isolated from the machine but they remain connected to each other.

  3. disconnect the battery straps that link the two batteries together. When completed, you have two separate 12-volt batteries, neither of them electrically connected to the machine or to each other.

  4. using short insulated heavy-duty jump leads, connect the positive terminal of the first battery to the negative terminal of the second one. Two of the four battery terminals remain unused, positive on one battery and negative on the other.

  5. connect a jump lead from the positive terminal to the positive terminal on the 24-volt equipment battery. Connect a second jump lead between the negative terminal and the engine block or other ground connection in the 24-volt equipment. Put the 24-volt machine in neutral and start it following the normal procedure. Once started, disconnect the jump leads from the battery.

 

First-aid Measures

When administering first aid to someone who has come into contact with sulphuric acid, always avoid direct contact. Wear chemical-resistant protective clothing, if necessary. Follow any first aid treatment and transport the victim to an emergency care facility immediately.

Contact with skin

  • flush the contaminated area, as quickly as possible, with gently flowing lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes

  • if any irritation persists, repeat flushing

  • do not interrupt the flushing – if necessary keep the emergency vehicle waiting until the flushing is complete

  • under running water, remove contaminated clothing, shoes and other leather goods (e.g., watchbands, belts)

  • discard any contaminated clothing, shoes, etc.

 

Acid in eyes

  • immediately flush the contaminated eye(s) with gently flowing lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes while holding the eyelid(s) open

  • do not interrupt the flushing – if necessary, keep the emergency vehicle waiting until the flushing is complete

  • be careful not to rinse contaminated water into the unaffected eye or onto the face