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The handling and proper use of lead acid batteries is not hazardous provided that sensible precautions are taken. The purpose of this warning is to indicate the main potential hazards that may arise.
1 No Smoking - No Sparks - No Naked Flames
Open the battery box in a well ventilated place [preferably outdoors] with the parcel upright and flat on the ground. Keep way from clothing and wear protective gloves and eyewear. A mixture of Hydrogen and Oxygen gas is emitted from batteries during charging and can also be emitted if the battery is moved or shaken.
2 Handle the Battery With Care
The battery will normally be sealed in a polythene cover. Every care is taken to keep the battery upright during transit but there is always the possibility that the battery could be tipped over. If you spot liquid around the battery and suspect this has happened, please note the following:
The battery contains dilute sulphuric acid which is corrosive. This can burn or irritate skin and eyes and can burn clothing. Spilled battery acid should be diluted with water and neutralized with alkali e.g. soda ash, sodium carbonate/bicarbonate. [for further information see Health & Safety statement below]
The battery may have a bung inserted in the drain hole on the side of the battery to prevent any leakage during transit. This must be removed before use.
3 Fitting the Battery [Before fitting refer to the owners handbook for any precautions].
1. Ensure that the engine is switched off, that electrical equipment e.g. radio/hazard lights are off, the ignition is off and keys removed.
2. Compare the sizes and power ratings of the old and new batteries making sure they match closely.
3. Disconnect the negative battery lead first. Move the lead to one side to avoid sparks during Steps 3 and 4.
4. Disconnect the positive lead. Make equally sure that it remains clear of the positive terminal during fitting.
5. Undo the battery hold down clamp / strap and then remove the battery. Place it onto the ground or a strong workbench.
6. Position the new battery into the engine bay battery area. Ensure the terminals are in the same position as they were with the old battery.
7. Re-attach the battery hold down clamp / strap.
8. Re-connect the terminals starting with the positive lead. Cover the exposed terminals with a layer of petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) to avoid corrosion. Take care not to do this with bare hands due to any possible exposure to lead sulphate.
9. Reset any Audio or Navigation Equipment / Vehicle Alarm/Radio security codes.
Health And Safety
The Handling and proper use of lead-acid batteries is not hazardous provided reasonable care is taken. The following guide is designed to help indicate potential hazards that may arise and to outline the precautions that should be taken to minimise such hazards. If an accident should happen each section will cover the correct accident and emergency procedures.
Sulphuric Acid (Electrolyte)
Batteries contain sulphuric acid, which may leak and may be given off as gasses and/or a fine mist during charging.
Nature of the Hazard
Battery acid is a poisonous and corrosive liquid which will cause burns and irritation to the skin and eyes and will also burn through clothing.
Accident and Emergency Treatment
immediately drench the affected area with clean water and remove any contaminated clothing. If any soreness or irritation persists seek medical advice.
Speed of action is vital. immediately wash out the eyes with clean water for at least 10 minutes and seek prompt medical attention.
Do NOT induce vomiting, but make the patient drink as much water or milk as possible and seek immediate medical attention.
For small spillages, swill away thoroughly with plenty of water.
Suitable acid resistant, labelled containers should be used.
Electrical energy can be supplied from batteries and charging equipment.
Nature of the Hazard
Burns may occur from the heating effect on tools and conductive objects in contact with live battery terminals or conductors. In addition, sparks and molten metal may be ejected and combustible materials ignited. It is possible to receive a severe electric shock from charging equipment and from a number of batteries connected in series.
Before using conductive tools on a battery, remove metallic personal adornments from the hands and wrists, i.e. watches and rings. Disconnect the battery before working on a vehicles electrical systems, disconnecting the earth terminal from the battery first and connect it again last. Do not place conductive tools or objects on top of a battery. Always read your vehicle owners hand book, before disconnecting the battery from your Vehicle.
Before using a battery charger, consult manufacturer's literature. remember to switch the charger off before connecting or disconnecting a battery.
Accident or Emergency Action & Treatment
Cool the area with cold water, apply a sterile dressing and seek medical attention.
Immediate action is essential in cases of severe electric shock as the nerves controlling breathing and heart action may be affected. Do not delay treatment by calling for a doctor: this should be done quickly if help is available of when the casualty recovers:
1. Make sure it is safe to approach. If the casualty is not clear of a live conductor, break the contact. Switch off the current, remove the plug, or wrench the cable free. If this is not possible, stand on a dry insulating material (wood, rubber, brick, thickly folded newspaper or a book) and try to push or pull the casualty clear of contact using similar insulating material as a lever. Do not touch him/her with bare hands.
2. If necessary give cardio pulmonary resuscitation.
Emission of Gases
Hydrogen and oxygen are emitted during charging and can be emitted at other times, particularly if a battery is moved or shaken. Therefore, always consider that gas is present in the immediate vicinity or at the top of the battery.
Nature of the Hazard
An explosive atmosphere is created if the concentration of hydrogen in air exceeds 4%.
Accident or Emergency Treatment
Seek any necessary medical attention and remember that sulphuric acid may have been ejected.
KEEP UPRIGHT AT ALL TIMES DO NOT TILT (Risk of spillage from Venting System)
Batteries are generally heavy, awkward units to handle and correct lifting techniques must therefore be used.
Battery plates consist of lead and its compounds* but can only be exposed if a battery is broken open. In the unlikely event of this happening any spillage should be well damped, swept up and placed in a suitable acid resistant, labelled container prior to disposal. Normal personal hygiene precautions should be observed.
Batteries, battery cases, battery acid and lead and lead compounds, must not be burned but must be disposed of in accordance with the appropriate legislation. Used and scrap batteries are classified as Special Waste and are subject to the EEC Council Directive on Batteries and Accumulators containing dangerous substances. Those transporting scrap batteries must be registered with the Waste Regulations Authority and operate the Special Waste Consignment Note procedure.
For further information consult the Environmental Department of your Local Authority.
Since batteries contain combustible materials the Local Fire Authority should be consulted where a quantity of batteries are stored together.