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How big is the fire risk from fork lift trucks?

Guest TimMiche

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Guest TimMiche

I have been asked to advise on safety in a warehouse. At night they charge 2 electric FLTs in the there, under some racking with flat-packed cardboard boxes on. Otherwise the warehouse is very spacious L,W & H. What is the likelihood of fire? - and do they need to worry about aprons etc. when simply clamping leads to batteries?

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You should consider, when conducting a fire risk assessment, preventing fires and the control measures to prevent this. The risks in fork lift truck charging procedures is not a major fire hazard but is a fire risk and any fire should be contained.

The guidance on the HSE website is quite vague, or is just stating "designated area kept free of combustibles, only trained staff to operate/maintain it, and well ventilated.

Select an area, free of combustibles, to prevent fire spread in the event of a fire starting. Hydrogen gases can be given off and being lighter than air accumulates higher up and forms explosive mixture with air. Therefore the correct ventilation (high & low level) should be considered. There is a formula to calculate the volume of hydrogen gas evolved in charging that dictates the ventilation required, check out the HSE guidance. Also signage, no smoking, no naked lights should be considered.

With battery charging, you should consider all the electrical the apparatus, switches, plugs. Consider electrical safety because the apparatus pass huge currents in charging and cables are always becoming crushed and grommets wrenched out of the chargers therefore regular test and inspection is essential. Also mount the chargers permanently in racks with mains power in armoured and fixed cables.

For first aid firefighting a 5 kg CO2 should be sufficient for the electrical risk.

There are other health and safety item to consider, i.e. be prepared for acid spillage and first aid eyewash stations. There a whole host of manual handling issues as well.

Check out http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg139.pdf

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