Battery Repair and Reclaim » Battery Repair

Defective batteries are repaired and salvaged. The plate groups are tested and reused when possible. Groups are removed by sawing or cutting the covers off the battery, breaking or burning the intercell connectors, and removing the groups.

The major source of lead exposure in the battery repair process comes from lead oxide which can become easily airborne.

Figure 1. Keep areas vacuumed

Potential Sources of Exposure

  • While removing plates, the operator, if not careful, may spill oxide out of the battery case, bang the dry plates together or against the case causing contaminants to become airborne.

  • High levels of lead fumes are generated when flames are put in contact with lead.

  • Moving groups in and out of battery cases may cause a bellows effect. The bellows effect will release lead particulates at the workstation.

  • Contamination may occur from improper disposal of battery parts.

Possible Engineering Controls

  • Provide local slot or downdraft ventilation at work stations.

  • Put a vacuum drop at workstations used for battery repair and salvage.

  • Use local exhaust ventilation on torch.
  • Provide local exhaust ventilation in areas for storage of tools, plates, and supplies.

  • Use air-propane or air-MAP gas instead of air-acetylene flame for torches.

  • Use a laminar flow (supplied-air) island.

Possible Work Practice Controls

  • Make sure ventilation is working properly around sawing areas.

  • Keep area vacuumed.

  • Clean up oxide spills immediately (see Figure 1).

  • Use a ventilated scrap barrel for disposal of elements.
  • Place, do not throw, elements into the scrap barrel.

  • Cover barrel with plastic before moving.

  • Open the container and disassemble it in a ventilated work area.

  • Use caution while removing plates from the battery case.

  • Remove plates cautiously to prevent a bellows effect.

    • If a bellows effect occurs, vacuum up particulates immediately with a central vacuum system or HEPA vacuum.
  • Do not store materials on active work surfaces; they may interfere with ventilation.

  • Provide adequate PPE, a change of clothes, and shower rooms (see OSHA Lead Requirements for PPE, Housekeeping, and Hygiene Facilities).