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Managing the Risks of Lithium-ion Forklift Trucks (FLT's)

In today's fast-paced world, lithium-ion batteries are everywhere - from our smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles. Now, they're making a significant impact in the world of forklift trucks. If you're a business owner, here's what you need to know about the benefits and safety precautions of using lithium-ion forklift trucks.


Why Lithium-ion Forklift Trucks?

Lithium-ion forklift trucks are gaining traction in warehouses, factories, and construction sites. While they come with a higher price tag, their benefits are hard to ignore:

  • Maintenance-Free: Say goodbye to regular upkeep.

  • Energy Efficient: They consume less power, saving you money in the long run.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. It's essential to be aware of the potential fire risks associated with these batteries and take necessary precautions.


Understanding the Fire Risk

The primary concern with lithium-ion batteries is the possibility of 'thermal runaway.' This chemical reaction happens when the battery's temperature rises to a point where it generates more heat than it can release. The result? The release of flammable and toxic gases that can lead to fires or even explosions. While such incidents are rare, they can be challenging to control once ignited.


Safety First: Preventative Measures for Your Business

To ensure the safety of your workplace, follow these guidelines:

  1. Purchase Wisely: Always buy batteries and chargers from trusted sources.

  2. Dedicated Charging Zone: Set up a well-ventilated charging area with a minimum of 60 minutes fire separation, ideally near an exterior wall for easy access and evacuation.

  3. Fire Detection: Install automatic fire detection systems in the charging area.

  4. Specialised Fire Extinguishers: Opt for Aqueous Vermiculite Dispersion (e.g., Lith-Ex) designed specifically for lithium battery fires.

  5. Clear Signage: Clearly mark the lithium-ion battery charging area.

  6. Regular Inspections: Conduct weekly or monthly checks of the equipment and document findings.

  7. Training: Ensure staff are trained in the safe use, hazards, and emergency procedures related to lithium-ion batteries.

  8. Emergency Plan: Have a clear plan in place, including evacuation procedures and notifying emergency services.


Lithium-ion forklift trucks offer undeniable advantages for businesses. However, it's crucial to prioritise safety. By understanding the risks and implementing the recommended precautions, you can harness the power of lithium-ion technology while ensuring a safe environment for your employees.



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