Electric forklifts come with a huge range of benefits – both environmental, operational and financial.
However, whether you’re running one electric forklift truck or an entire fleet, your warehouse needs a designated forklift charging station. The space should be practical, accessible and compliant.
Here we discuss the important safety features that your charging station needs to allow your operators to charge forklift batteries safely and efficiently.
First of all, you need to ensure that your battery chargers are mounted correctly to allow for complete accessibility. Locate them in an accessible area with a wall that the chargers can be mounted up against.
For safety and compliance reasons, all chargers need to be fitted with emergency stop breakers. This means that the flow of electricity can be stopped instantly if it needs to be.
You should also ensure that there are no hanging cables anywhere in the area that could cause a tripping hazard for your employees. To avoid this, you should mount chargers at the appropriate height and make sure cables are not too long.
No matter how hard you try to avoid them, accidents in a warehouse can happen, and unfortunately can be very serious because of the nature of the machinery and equipment being used.
When it comes to your charging station, basic safety equipment and first aid supplies should always be readily available. This might also include specialist equipment to protect your workforce in the event of an incident such as a battery acid spill. Safety equipment should also include an emergency shower and eyewash in case an operator comes into contact with battery acid at any point.
Finally, your charging area should be fitted with a fire extinguisher, which is suitable for use on electrical fires.
Although a rare occurrence, product defects or damage to the cell mean that batteries can occasionally leak. The acid from the inside of the battery is highly erosive and dangerous and could cause damage to your warehouse – especially the floor. Therefore, an important consideration is to install acid-resistant flooring in your charging room.
In addition to protecting your space, specialist flooring will ensure that leaks are easy to clean up, saving you time and money as a result.
Keeping your charging area well ventilated is essential to keep your employees safe. Forklift batteries produce hydrogen gas, which is tough to detect, but very dangerous.
Therefore, the air quality in your charging area should be regularly monitored with a risk assessment to ensure that hydrogen levels stay below the permitted levels as advised by the HSE.
Despite being fairly easy to achieve through open doors, windows and exhaust fans, ventilation is arguably one of the most vital safety features your charging station needs to keep your workforce safe, so give this topic a lot of consideration before use.
Implementing the above safety tips should ensure your forklift charging station is a safer and more efficient environment for the operators using it every day.