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Work safely with lithium batteries

Photo: PLG/iStockphoto

Many devices, including personal gas monitors, are powered by lithium batteries, some of which (lithium-ion batteries) are rechargeable.

According to OSHA, lithium batteries are “a safe, high energy density power source for devices in the workplace.” Still, they can cause injury “if they have design defects, are made of low-quality materials, are assembled incorrectly, are used or recharged improperly, or are damaged.” A malfunctioning or improperly used lithium battery-powered device can cause a fire or an explosion.

Follow these tips from OSHA to ensure your workers stay safe:

  • Make sure lithium batteries, chargers and associated equipment are tested in accordance with an appropriate test standard and, where applicable, certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for storage, use, charging and maintenance.
  • Confirm that replacement batteries and chargers are designed and approved for use with the device.
  • Remove lithium-powered devices and batteries from the charger once they’re fully charged.
  • Store the batteries and devices in a cool, dry place.
  • Inspect batteries and devices for signs of damage before use. If you find damage, remove the item from service; place it in a fire-resistant container; and dispose of it in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. Or, contact a local battery recycling center for disposal instructions.
  • Ensure workers who use or handle lithium-powered devices are trained on using these products.

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