Battery Safety – How Does This Affect You



All safety precautions are covered in our component maintenance manuals, more commonly known as the CMMs. There's a CMM for RG series main aircraft batteries and a separate CMM for RG series emergency aircraft batteries. The safety aspects are the same in both CMMs. A list of the safety hazards is shown on the screen. These include, A, low capacity hazard, B, electrical burn hazard, C, danger of exploding batteries, D, chemical burn hazard, and E, damage to equipment.


Regarding the low capacity hazard, the FAA generally requires aircraft batteries to provide backup power in the event of a generator system failure. Never use a battery that has less than 80% of its rated capacity and never jumpstart an aircraft that has a dead or a discharged battery. Think aircraft safety, not just battery safety.


Regarding the electrical burn hazard, batteries can generate very high levels of current if the terminals are shorted together. The object that causes the short circuit will get very hot due to the high current and will cause a burn hazard. To prevent electrical burns, take off any metallic jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces that could potentially cause a short circuit across the battery terminals. Also, do not allow your belt buckle to contact the battery connector. Getting burned by a shorted belt buckle is more common than you might think. Obviously, it's not a good idea to place tools or other metal objects across battery terminals. For example, you may be tempted to use a steel ruler or a caliper to measure the distance between battery terminals, as some of us have found out the hard way, severe damage to you and the tool can happen pretty rapidly. As an extra precaution, it's a good idea to install battery terminal protectors when the battery is not connected to test equipment.


Regarding the danger of exploding batteries, lead acid batteries can cause explosions because they produce hydrogen and oxygen while on charge. However, there should not be any danger of explosion if you take the following precautions. First, make sure the work area is well ventilated so any hydrogen given off by the battery gets adequately diluted. Second, don't smoke, use an open flame or cause sparking near a battery. Remember that there could be local areas of hydrogen build up in the vicinity of the battery even if the work area is well ventilated. Third, wear proper eye protection when servicing batteries such as safety goggles or a face shield. And finally, do not charge a battery at constant current when it is installed in the aircraft. Constant current charging should only be done in a well ventilated area because a significant amount of hydrogen gas may be released from the battery. Battery compartments on most aircraft do not have adequate ventilation to handle the extra volume of hydrogen that is released so this would cause a potential explosion hazard on the aircraft.


Regarding the chemical burn hazard, lead acid batteries contain sulfuric acid in the electrolyte which can cause severe chemical burns. To avoid chemical burns, the following precautions should be taken. Never remove or damage the vent valves, avoid contact with the battery's electrolyte if the battery gets cracked or broken open. Don't touch your eyes after touching the battery, wash your hands first. If electrolyte does get into your eyes or on your skin, flush thoroughly with clean, cool water for several minutes and get medical attention as soon as possible. And finally, the last point is regarding equipment damage. To prevent equipment damage, ensure that the aircraft battery switch, external power source or the charger analyzer is in the off position before connecting or disconnecting the battery. If the circuit is not off when making or breaking connections, the battery terminals may arc and cause damage to the battery, equipment cables or both.


If these instructions are followed, then all potential safety hazards will be fully mitigated. Also, as a reminder, the CMMs provide full coverage of the safety hazards and precautions.


To complete your training, please take time to read the safety summary in the CMM. Also, take time to read the SDS, safety data sheet, for additional information. The CMM and SDS are posted on the Concorde Battery website for easy access. Finally, if you have any questions on this subject, contact Concorde's customer service department. Thank you everyone. Be safe.


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