Battery Care for Electric Powered Forklifts

 April 19, 2017 at 3:01 pm   |     Author:   |     Posted in Blog  

Batteries are expensive, very expensive!

When I instruct forklift operator safety courses I highly recommend caring for the batteries.

Here are my recommendations:


  • Batteries contain sulfuric acid (within the electrolyte), and should be handled with care.
  • Water levels on a battery should be checked regularly.
  • Always be sure the plates in the cells are just covered with water.
  • Wear splash proof goggles, protective clothing and rubber gloves when handling electrolyte.
  • A safety shower or sink and eye wash station should be near the charging area.
  • If battery acid contacts the skin or gets in your eyes, flush the area immediately with cold water for 15 minutes and get medical help.
  • Keep all sources of ignition away from battery charging area.
  • Neutralize any spilled electrolyte with baking soda.
  • Keep any dirt or cleaning solutions from getting into the cells.
  • Keep metallic objects away from battery to prevent a possible short circuit.
  • Do not break live circuits at the terminal of batteries.
  • Check connectors, pitting or looseness can cause sparks or arcing.


  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • HYDROGEN GAS is produced when batteries are being charged and is extremely flammable.
  • Be sure your charging area is well ventilated.
  • It is best to let the lift truck rest for an hour after charging.  A freshly charged battery is hotter than normal and still produces hydrogen gas.
  • Be sure the battery cover is open while charging in order to dissipate heat.
  • Keep sparks, flames, cigarettes etc. away from charging area.
  • Make sure the charger is the same voltage and amperage as your battery.
  • Be sure the charger is turned OFF before connecting the battery to the charger.  If not a spark may be created and could cause the battery to explode.
  • Ensure the lift truck key switch is in the OFF position.
  • The charger connector shall not be plugged into the truck connector under any circumstances.
  • Do not overcharge; it will make no difference but it will shorten the life of the battery.
  • Check water levels AFTER charging to avoid over watering and acid spills.


A hydrometer reading to check the specific gravity should be taken periodically; the higher the acid content reading the better.

This is typically checked by a qualified mechanic during a scheduled maintenance.  Scheduled maintenance of the lift truck, by the way, is also a regulation.

Throughout my career, I am always amazed how some companies allow maintenance to lapse.  Considering the repair costs and the potential for injury due to mechanical breakdown, I am surprised these companies are not more thorough in their due diligence.

Today there are all sorts of wonderful products available on the market that would alleviate these challenges – ie:  low maintenance or maintenance free batteries; self-watering systems.  Check with your forklift dealership or battery provider to the best possible solutions for you.




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