Batteries contain dilute sulphuric acid. They also emit hydrogen gas which can produce an explosive mixture. Therefore, this guide deals with safety precautions to be followed when working with batteries. Specific safety precautions will be mentioned throughout the guide where applicable.
HANDLING BATTERY ACID
When working with acid wear a face shield and protective clothing. Use extreme care to avoid spillage or splashing as it can destroy clothing and if not treated promptly cause damage to the skin. Be especially cautious when lifting batteries with polypropylene containers as pressure on the end walls could result in acid being ejected through the vent plugs. If acid is spilt onto clothing or the skin it should be neutralised immediately using a solution of baking soda or household ammonia and water and then rinsed using clean water.
If acid enters the eye, force the eye open and flood with cool, clean water for approximately fifteen minutes. If acid is swallowed drink large quantities of water or milk. Follow with milk of magnesia. Obtain medical advice as soon as possible. Do not encourage vomiting. Electrolyte spilt on the surface of the car should be neutralised and rinsed with clean water. We do not recommend the dilution of concentrated sulphuric acid by non-qualified personnel. In any event, batteries are supplied in a filled and charged condition and should never require acid to be added except in the case of spillage. Under such circumstances advice should be sought from the battery manufacturer.
DANGER OF EXPLOSIONS
BATTERIES PRODUCE EXPLOSIVE GASES. KEEP SPARKS, FLAMES, BURNING CIGARETTES OR OTHER IGNITION SOURCES AWAY FROM THE BATTERY AT ALL TIMES. ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES OR A FACE SHIELD WHEN WORKING NEAR BATTERIES.
Only allow trained personnel to work on a battery. They should know and observe the safety precautions detailed in this guide. They should be familiar with the procedures to be followed if they attempt to charge or test a battery or jump start a vehicle. The manufacturer’s instructions must be followed when any equipment such as a charger or tester is used. Hydrogen and oxygen are produced as a part of the operation of the battery. These gases produce an explosive mixture within the battery and escape through the vents. Many modern batteries incorporate a flame arrester but it is still essential to keep any form of ignition well away from the battery. An exploding battery can cause severe injury from flying pieces of container and acid. Always wear safety goggles or a face shield when working near a battery.
Avoid leaning over the battery when charging, testing, ‘jump starting’, connecting or disconnecting. Do not break ‘live’ circuits at the terminals of the battery as this invariably causes a spark to be produced at the point where the circuit is broken. Ensure that the charger cable clamps or ‘jump start’ leads are in good order and the connections are good. A poor connection can cause an electrical arc which can ignite the hydrogen gas and cause an explosion.
Avoid dropping tools across the terminals and use insulated spanners. Do not smoke or bring any naked flame near the battery.
CHARGING A BATTERY
The battery should be charged in a well-ventilated area. Do not remove the vent plugs during charge except when taking readings of specific gravity or topping up, if required.
Follow the charger manufacturer’s instructions.
Make sure that the charger is switched off before connecting to the battery. Connect the charger leads to the battery terminals with the red positive (+) lead to the positive terminal and the black or blue negative (-) lead to the negative terminal. The battery should not be charged whilst still connected to the vehicle as the voltages reached during charge can damage the vehicle’s electrical system.
Never touch the charger leads while the charger is switched on. This could break the circuit creating a spark which could result in an explosion.
BATTERY ACID / SULPHURIC ACID <51%
|•||Corrosive –||Will cause serious burns to skin, eyes and clothing.
Inhalation of fumes will damage mucous membranes and lungs.
Ingestion will severely burn.
|•||Fire & Explosion –||Contact with most metal will cause release of flammable and explosive hydrogen gas. Fire will produce irritating and toxic fumes.|
|•||Environment –||Spillages not properly contained will cause environmental pollution.|
• Wear protective clothing, – face, foot, hand protection and PVC apron.
• When mixing add acid to water.
• Handle containers carefully to avoid spillage.
STORAGE AND HANDLING
• Store in a containment area.
• Store containers upright with caps securely fastened.
• Do not stack containers.
• Store in a cool dry place.
• Do not store incompatible chemicals together.
• Provide spill kit to treat spillages.
Remove personnel from area.
|IN CASE OF||DO THIS|
|FIRE||1. Wear correct protective clothing.
2. Isolate area.
3. Use CO2 or water spray.
4. Move containers if safe.
5. Do not use jets of water.
6. Do not allow fire water or acid to enter drain systems.
|SPILLAGE||1. Eliminate any source of ignition.
2. Wear correct protective clothing.
3. Dam acid and prevent entry into drains, waterway & sewers.
4. Stop leakage.
5. Clean up using absorbent material.
6. Dispose of spill material as hazardous material.
|EXPOSURE||1. Always seek medical attention.
2. Eyes – Rinse with cool running water for at least 15 minutes.
3. Skin – Wash thoroughly with cool running water for at least 15 minutes.
4. Ingestion – Do not induce vomiting, give plenty to drink – only if victim is conscious.
5. Inhalation – Remove to fresh air. If victim is not breathing give artificial respiration.
CALL FOR OR GET MEDICAL ATTENTION IN ALL CASES.