It's not difficult to set up a battery changing/charging station that's safe and meets regulations. These pointers will help you get started!

If you've never set up a station for changing or charging batteries, one of the first things to know is that there are OSHA requirements to meet. Facilities must be provided for "flushing and neutralizing spilled electrolyte, for fire protection, for protecting charging apparatus from damage by trucks, and for adequate ventilation for dispersal of fumes from gassing batteries" [29 CFR 1910.178(g)(2)].

There are four main points to consider when setting up a safe station for changing or charging batteries:

  • Location : Decide where to put your station. Make sure that the area is protected from traffic, open flames, sparks and electrical arcs and that the area has adequate ventilation.
  • Materials : When setting up a changing/charging station, ensure that workers have the necessary tools and equipment. For example, workers may need to use cranes or hoists for moving large batteries. Also, make sure that your changing/charging areas are clearly marked. For example, you may store your batteries for recycling in the same area as the new batteries. Be sure to label the storage areas clearly. Store batteries on acid-resistant floors or grates to keep spills and leaks from spreading.
  • Safety : For worker safety, ensure that the proper PPE is provided and accessible in the area. PPE for changing/charging batteries includes goggles and shields, aprons and gloves that resist corrosives. Also, place an eyewash station and/or shower in the area, along with a first-aid kit. For fire protection, make sure that a fire extinguisher is available. In addition, prohibit smoking in the battery changing/charging area.
  • Spill Control : Hopefully, spills will be few and far between in your battery changing/charging area. But we all know that spills can happen. You'll be well prepared with absorbents that are chemically compatible with acid, as well as acid neutralizer for small spills. For larger spills, have the appropriate absorbents or diking materials available.

Maintaining stations

Set up an inspection schedule to periodically assess the safety of your battery changing/charging station. Make sure spill control materials are stocked and in usable condition. Check available PPE for damage.

Disposing of wastes

Recycling or disposing of batteries may be accomplished according to one of the following Environmental Protection Agency standards, as applicable:

Training workers

Workers must know how to safely change and charge batteries. In fact, OSHA requires operators to be trained in refueling and/or charging batteries. Training can be provided in conjunction with forklift training. Be sure to train workers on your applicable recycling or disposal operations. Retrain as necessary if procedures or equipment change!