A member has reported a near miss incident in which there was a spill of battery acid. An electrician had charged the wet cell batteries of two motion reference units (MRU), each contained in a plastic box. Once the charging was completed, the electrician closed the boxes and had to place them on the floor to wait for the next shift to test the equipment.
However, to limit the amount of floor space for storage the electrician placed the boxes on their sides, neglecting to remember that this improper orientation (batteries on their side) could allow the wet cell batteries to leak acid.
Crew on the following shift opened one case and noticed a smell, suggesting battery acid. Upon further inspection, the electricians noticed that battery acid had run out of the vents of the batteries in both plastic containers.
Had the circumstances been different, this could have been a very serious incident.
Our member’s investigation noted the following:
- A wet cell battery with vents would permit leakage of the battery if stored improperly;
- The containers were stored on their sides; the electrician forgot that in doing this, the batteries might leak;
- The battery containers were not labelled to provide information regarding:
- Which way up they should be stored
- What was inside – the possible hazards of wet cell batteries. The lessons were: . Boxes and containers should be clearly labelled so all crew know which way is up and any hazards relating to what is inside; . This should particularly be the case for containers used for batteries; . Consider replacement of the wet cell batteries with dry cell batteries – thus eliminating the hazard of an acid spill.
Members may wish to refer to the following similar battery-related incidents (key words: battery, acid):
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