Workplace injuries: Batteries pose an endless list of hazards


Safety authorities in California say every employee who works with batteries needs adequate safety training. Batteries come in power equipment on construction sites, in tractors, trucks and automobiles, and most of them contain hazardous substances like lead and sulfuric acid. Unless workers who maintain, recharge, and operate batteries know the risks and how to mitigate them, they can suffer severe workplace injuries.

The highly corrosive electrolytes — or sulfuric acid — in batteries can cause respiratory irritation, eye damage, skin irritation, and it can even erode tooth enamel. Workers in marine environments must learn about the dangers of allowing saltwater to mix with battery solution. Dangerous chlorine gas can develop, and other battery-related byproducts of chemical reactions include hydrogen and oxygen gas, which pose explosion hazards. Flammable gases also form when batteries are overcharged.

Appropriate personal protective equipment is crucial. These include goggles and face shields to prevent chemicals splashing into the eyes of workers. Also, acid-resistant gloves, aprons and boots are essential, and safety authorities remind workers to avoid tucking their pants into their boots. This could allow spilled battery acid to get into the boots and pool there, causing severe burn injuries.

Many other workplace injuries can occur if proper safety protocols are not followed. When they do, the California workers’ compensation insurance program will likely cover the medical expenses and lost wages of the injured worker, regardless of who was at fault. The support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation can be an invaluable asset in the navigation of a benefits claim.

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