Safe Electric Forklift Power Handling

Electric-powered forklifts are most commonly used indoors in warehouses. Unlike internal combustion forklifts, electric forklifts are quiet and generally non-polluting but present other serious hazards that must be addressed.

 Electric forklifts produce zero emissions, virtually eliminate the hazard of carbon monoxide poisoning, and run more quietly than internal combustion forklifts. However, electric forklifts present other serious hazards that must be addressed.

Potential Hazards:

  • Electric forklifts are powered by large lead-acid batteries, which must be routinely charged. The hazards and recommended practices for charging and changing batteries are reviewed below.
Requirements and Recommended Practices:
  • Designate an area for the purpose of battery charging.
  • Make sure that the forklift is charged before using.
  • Recognize that heavy loads drain the battery more quickly.
A Properly Equipped Battery Changing Area Will Have:

  • No smoking.
  • Warning signs posted.
  • Adequate fire protection.
  • Ample and readily available water supply for flushing and neutralizing spilled electrolyte.
  • An eyewash able to provide a 15 minute flow. (Figure 2) Note: For large installations, there should be a plumbed drench shower and an eyewash.
  • A phone or other means of communication in the event of an emergency.
  • Adequate ventilation to avoid the build up of hydrogen gas during battery charging.
  • Soda ash or other neutralization materials in the immediate area
  • A dry chemical, CO2 or foam fire extinguisher.
  • Means to protect charging apparatus from damage from trucks.