Three Ways Your Forklift Fleet May Be Contaminating
Battery Wash Water
Forklift batteries build up corrosion over time. No matter how careful you are, small amounts of acid leak out and create deposits on the terminals. Workers who touch the corrosion can get minor acid burns. The corrosion interferes with normal operation, causing the battery to give off less power. Eventually the forklift won't start at all and this may cause companies to mistakenly think the battery is dead and replace it.
Regular washing is an important part of battery maintenance but businesses have to be careful how they dispose of the wash water. The water will contain acid and traces of heavy metals such as lead and mercury. Heavy metals are dangerous contaminants because it takes only a very small amount to create devastating environmental damage. Use a battery washer designed to collect the wash water for industrial wastewater treatment and then recycle the cleaned water for the next wash cycle.
Forklifts may need to be washed occasionally, especially if used outside. Dirt and mud can interfere with normal forklift operation. Acid leaking from a battery can cause corrosion so should be washed off immediately. However washing will wash contaminants down the drain. Debris will eventually clog the pipes. If you use detergent, the suds will harm the environment even if the detergent is labeled as biodegradable.
The large amount of water used in washing makes it difficult for sites to handle their own industrial wastewater treatment. It might be best to use a professional vehicle washing service that collects the wastewater and treats it themselves.
Electric forklifts may not contain gasoline but they do contain other dangerous liquids such as brake fluid and lubricants. A slightly imperfect seal or eroding gasket allows these fluids to leak out slowly, sometimes so slowly that maintenance staff may not even realize there is a problem until fluids become dangerously low.
Repair any leaks immediately. Every drop that spills out ends up in our environment and will eventually find its way into the groundwater. Place drip pans under forklifts that are not in use, especially if they are to be stored for more than a week. Don't dump collected fluids down the drain unless all drains lead to industrial wastewater treatment, and even then you are better off disposing of the fluids properly in the first place rather than overburdening the treatment facility.
Industrial wastewater treatment is mostly limited to battery washing, but there are always additional steps you take to keep the water clean. A little extra effort goes a long way toward maintaining a healthy planet.
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