Handling Batteries Safely
Although containment for “dry” batteries would seem simple, improper or “rough” handling can damage the casing and cause leakage of the contents. Teach your workers to know how to ensure that the casing of each individual battery cell is not breached and remains intact and closed. They should know to report any evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage.
You can train your workers to avoid spills or releases of hazardous material if they know how to carefully inspect batteries for damage or leakage. Keep a log of these inspections. Inspect more often during freezing conditions.
Batteries should be placed in appropriate containers. Inspect the containers to ensure they are:
- Structurally sound
- Lack evidence of leakage, spillage, or damage that could cause leakage under reasonably foreseeable conditions
- Compatible with the contents of the battery so that any leaks will not react with the container material
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Labels for Battery Containers
Workers should be trained to clearly mark or label each battery or each container that holds batteries with any one of the following phrases:
- "Universal Waste—Battery(ies)”
- “Waste Battery(ies)”
- “Used Battery(ies)”
How are batteries handled at your facility? Your workers should know whether they are sorted by type or if various types are mixed in one container; if they are discharged to remove electric charge; whether battery packs are disassembled into individual batteries or cells; or if batteries are removed from consumer products.
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Safe Storage of Batteries
Your workers won’t have any trouble with safe battery storage if you teach them to:
- Make sure the electrodes of rechargeable batteries do not touch the electrodes of another battery or a metal object.
- Store batteries upright to prevent leakage from vent holes.
- Keep battery containers closed, but do not seal them tightly; this will avoid the buildup of hydrogen gas.
- Keep batteries dry, since some batteries can react with the water.
- Keep batteries and battery containers away from sources of sparks or flames.
- Keep leaking batteries in separate containers from nonleaking batteries. Leaking acids from batteries may corrode the other batteries.
- Keep batteries and battery containers away from heat sources and flames.
Training Tip: Take the time to show your workers the proper universal waste battery storage locations, containers, and procedures at your facility.
Batteries aren’t the only universal waste you should be training your workers on. See tomorrow’s Advisor for training tips on handling hazardous lamps.