Urban myths often have a grain of truth in them. For example many people believe that aerosol sprays damage the ozone layer, when in fact the ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from spray cans for over thirty years. Could lead poisoning be one of those myths? No, lead poisoning is real and a key reason why companies should use materials handling equipment when dealing with forklift batteries.
The Truth About Lead Poisoning
Lead and other heavy metals such as mercury arsenic are serious health problems. Even a very small amount of these metals builds up in organisms, quickly damaging organs and the nervous system. This is especially a concern in infants and pregnant mothers since lead can damage the baby's developing brain.
Decades ago lead was prevalent in house paint, water pipes, glazed ceramics and even children's toys. Today lead has been banned in most products so you might believe there is no danger of contamination. Unfortunately that is not true. Although sources of lead have been reduced, there are still many remaining, often because there isn't any cost-effective alternative to lead. One common source is the lead-acid battery used in forklifts. Protect your workers from the dangers of lead exposure by using materials handling equipment.
Lifters allow workers to remove batteries from forklifts without coming into direct contact. The distance minimizes the chance the worker will come into contact with the lead or the acid in the cell, both dangerous materials. Workers can easily remove and replace power cells and transport them to a charging area. Remember even a tiny amount of ingested lead, such as the amount you might receive by touching lead and then putting your finger in your mouth, can cause permanent and catastrophic organ damage.
Materials handling equipment reduces the incidence of worker injury. Batteries are heavy and back strain is not uncommon in workers handling these heavy blocks. Lifters minimize the chance of dropping a battery, which can cause injury, damage to the floor, or cracking of the battery case that causes an acid leak.
Another type of materials handling equipment is the washer. Batteries build up corrosion from the acid inside as well as picking up dirt and other materials. The units need to be cleaned now and then to maximize their life and reduce the chance of worker injury. However you can't just hose them off in the parking lot since the running water will leach off a small amount of lead.
If the lead gets into the sewage system, it will eventually contaminate the city's drinking water. If it gets into the water table, it can spread into water holes, lakes and river. Animals drink this water and accumulate the metal, and anything that eats that animal, including humans, will also get a dose of lead.
Lead is dangerous but it's also relatively easy to control. Use materials handling equipment to manipulate forklift batteries safely.