*** Safety Alert ***
Battery Explosion while attempting to jump start engine.
Description of Incident: July 14th employee was attempting to re-charge a low/dead
battery, when battery explosion occurred. Employee had installed jumper cables on the
source batter, and then installed the live end of the jumper cables (RED) to the low/dead
battery. Employee then attached the negative lead from source battery to the low/dead
battery, battery exploded, showering employee with battery acid solution and plastic debris.
Employee was transported to hospital and treated for chemical exposure, and later
Factors to Consider:
Age, temperature, and general usage will decrease the battery efficiency, therefore
increasing the likelihood that the battery will need to be jump started.
Maintenance program should asses the current battery condition.
Failure to utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) No Safety Glasses
Improper installation of jumper cables.
No Job Safety Analysis, Procedure, or Best practice to assist employees in
identification of the hazard.
General Battery Knowledge:
12-volt lead-acid batteries typically have six (6) two-volt chambers, referred to as cells, which
contain a grid of lead plates submerged in sulfuric acid. Electricity is generated when the acid reacts
with the lead plates and water.
The by-product of the process is gaseous hydrogen, and the element so highly flammable that it is
used to power rockets engines. Charging, or jumping batteries will also generates hydrogen, and
because heat/temperature drives up the hydrogen output, you can expect generally higher outputs in
The hydrogen gasses can and will cause an explosion if allowed to cone in contact with spark, or
open flames ( the battery itself can be the source of the ignition)
As a battery ages, it loses water leaving the top of the lead plates exposed to the air inside the
battery case. Over time this can lead to warpage of the plates.
Starting the engine puts a heavy demand for power, causing the already warped plates to flex, touch
each other thus cause a spark. The most common cause of battery explosions upon start up is dirty
battery posts and cables. The dirt prevents a good connection and allows electrical arcing.
Improper jump-starting is another leading cause of explosions. The mistake many people make is to
connect the jumper cable to the source battery and then to the low/dead battery, a practice that
Potential for battery explosions are grater than years past due to the batteries being sealed
preventing adding water to keep the electrolyte solution above the lead plates.
Regular maintenance and inspection, along with a greater understanding of proper procedures is the
key to avoiding accidents.
Produced by: Safety by Design on behalf of Client