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January 17, 2011
How To Handle Sulfuric Acid Spillage When Dealing With Electric Forklift Batteries

Battery acid is made up of diluted sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is a clear, colorless liquid with an acrid smell that is corrosive and can cause severe burns. When dealing with electric forklift batteries there are the following potential hazards:

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  • Acid splash, especially to the eyes.
  • Acid spill.
  • Corrosive burns.

In the event of an emergency involving a sulfuric acid spill or splash your facility may have its own safety procedure, requiring employees to contact their supervisors or medical personnel either on-site or off-site. This is a sample procedure that can be adapted for your facility.

If the acid splashes into the eyes:

  1. Remove safety glasses and flush eyes with clean water in eyewash for 15 minutes.
  2. Seek medical attention immediately.
  3. Report the incident to your supervisor.

If the acid splashes onto the skin:

  1. Remove acid soaked clothing immediately.
  2. Flush acid contacted skin with clean water for 15 minutes.
  3. Seek medical attention immediately if redness or burns occur.
  4. Report the incident to your supervisor.

If the acid is swallowed and the victim is conscious:

  1. Remove victim from battery area and provide fresh air.
  2. Wash out mouth with large amounts of water.
  3. Give victim milk to drink.
  4. Do not try to induce vomiting.
  5. Monitor victim's breathing and condition. Start CPR if victim stops breathing.
  6. Use NIOSH approved acid mist respirator, if OSHA PEL (1.0 mg/m3) is exceeded or if respiratory irritation occurs.
  7. Seek immediate medical attention.
  8. Report the incident to your supervisor.

If the acid is swallowed and the victim is unconscious:

  1. Remove victim immediately from battery area and provide fresh air.
  2. Start CPR if victim stops breathing.
  3. Provide oxygen, if properly trained personnel are available.
  4. Seek immediate medical attention.
  5. Report the incident to your supervisor.

Consult the Material Safety Data Sheet for additional information on this dangerous chemical.

For more information on sulfuric acid in electric forklift batteries, see this OSHA guidance.

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