Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash – Mechanical Handling Equipment (MHE) – Electric Tow Tractor Battery Explosion and Fire
Introduction and Background:
A Safety Flash has been issued by the Royal Mail Group Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) Team (copy attached), following a recent incident in a Mail Centre when an Electric Tow Tractor ‘wet cell’ battery exploded and caught fire during charging.
Description of the Incident and Key Issues:
A large MHE Electric Tow Tractor battery exploded and caught fire during charging, as a result of a failure in basic battery routine maintenance. The ‘wet cell’ battery was not regularly inspected, checked and topped up with water. The liquid levels in the battery ran dry and it overheated. The battery cover had not been raised to allow venting of gases. This caused a build-up of trapped volatile Hydrogen gas and the battery cables and securing clamps had significant corrosion. As a result, the ‘wet cell’ battery dried out and exploded during charging and caught fire.
Key Management Activities and Learning Points:
- Brief employees who charge batteries on the correct procedures to follow. Batteries must be topped up with distilled or deionised water and be left well ventilated during charging.
- Brief those who undertake battery charging duties about the process when battery charging and maintenance schedule to follow.
- Clear battery maintenance guidelines need to be given to those responsible for undertaking maintenance of batteries to avoid future failings.
- Print and display the Briggs Charging Guidance notice on the wall next to the battery charging point in the unit.
- Copy of RMG SHE Safety Flash FY20 015 ‘Battery Charging Fire’
- Copy of the Briggs Battery Charging Guidance (Briggs Battery Bay Sign)
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer