While handling lead acid batteries in power systems, we should always follow safety precautions to avoid injuries or accidents.
Safety is a full-time job and the responsibility of everyone. Practicing safety requires:
- Good work habits and clean work area.
- Proper equipment and its use
- Awareness of hazards and how to avoid them.
- Training in First Aid
- Periodic review of safety procedures
Safety Precautions While Handling Lead Acid Batteries
- Due to hazardous materials and chemicals involved, and the amount of electrical energy which they store , batteries are potentially dangerous. We must handle the batteries with caution.
- Typical batteries used in Stand-alone PV systems can deliver up-to several thousand Amps under short-circuit conditions, requiring special precautions.
Sulphuric acid solution contained in lead-acid batteries can destroy clothing and burn our skin.
- While performing battery maintenance, always wear protective clothing such as aprons, ventilation masks, goggles and face shields to protect from acid spills or splashes and fumes.
- To neutralize sulphuric acid spills or splashes on clothing, rinse the spill immediately with a solution of baking soda or household ammonia and water.
- For nickel-cadmium batteries, you can neutralize the potassium hydroxide electrolyte with a vinegar and water solution.
- If electrolyte is accidentally splashed in the eyes, open the eyes forcefully and flood them with cool clean water for fifteen minutes.
- If acid electrolyte is taken internally, drink large quantities of water or milk, followed by milk of magnesia, beaten eggs or vegetable oil and cal la physician immediately.
Caution : Never pour the water into the acid!!
- As a good practice, locate fire extinguisher in close proximity to the battery area if possible
NOTE : Remove jewellery on the hands and wrists
- In some critical applications, you may have to use automated fire sprinkler systems to protect expensive load equipment.
- If you want to prepare the electrolyte solution from concentrated acid and water, pour the acid slowly into the water while mixing
- Use always properly insulated tools to protect against inadvertent battery short-circuits.
- During operation, lead acid batteries may produce explosive mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen gases. hence keep spark, flames, burning cigarettes, or other ignition sources away from batteries from all times.
NOTE : Improper charging and excessive overcharging may increase the possibility of battery explosion.
- Explosive gases may be present for several hours after a battery has been charged. Active and passive ventilation techniques are often required depending on the number of batteries located in a enclosure and their gassing characteristics.
- The use of battery vent caps with a flame arrester feature lowers the possibility of a catastrophic battery explosion.
- While making and breaking connections from a charging source or electrical load, ensure that the charger or load is switched off so as not to create sparks or arcing during the connection.
Battery disposal and Recycling
Under no circumstances lead acid batteries should be disposed in landfills or allow the electrolyte to seep into the ground.
- Be aware of the procedure for battery disposal, as they are hazardous items as they contain toxic materials such as lead, acids and plastics which can harm humans and the environment.
- In some cases, you may have to follow the guidelines for battery disposal or for recycling them through local distributors.
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I would be happy to hear more about other precautionary measures followed in battery handling . Do share your thoughts what other precautionary measure you consider in the comment section below.