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Dangerous power banks and 12 steps to improve your Electrical Safety

A November 2022 Reddit thread, showed the below power bank explosion in Australia.

While the photos are shocking, these sorts of incidents are not uncommon and can occur in workplaces and homes. The below information could make a great topic of conversation at your next TOOLBOX meeting!

Main Dangers

The main dangers of power banks, batteries, and charging equipment include fire and explosion hazards due to overheating, overcharging, or short-circuiting. They can also cause electrical shocks or burns if not handled properly.

12 Steps to Electrical Safety

To ensure electrical safety in the workplace, businesses can take the following steps:

  1. Use only certified and properly tested charging equipment and power banks. Look for this Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) owned by Australian electrical regulators.

  2. Regularly inspect, test, tag and maintain charging equipment and electrical items,

  3. Provide training for employees on how to use and handle electrical items,

  4. Have a plan in place to deal with emergency situations such as a fire,

  5. Use surge protectors, Residual current devices (RCDs), and ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to protect against electrical shocks and overheating etc.

  6. Keep charging equipment and power banks away from flammable materials,

  7. Do not charge devices overnight or leave them charging unsupervised,

  8. Turn off power points when they are not in use,

  9. Have a proper ventilation system to avoid overheating of the devices,

  10. Use good-quality cables and adapters. Try buying only lithium-ion devices with a cut-off mechanism when fully charged (these can be more expensive but are much safer),

  11. Do not overload any electrical plugs, adaptors, power boards or extension cords,

  12. Check the Product Safety register regularly for recalled items, and report any issues to the ACCC straight away. The power pod in the below photos was on the recall list!

Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries can also pose a significant burn risk when breached. This can happen due to a number of factors such as overcharging, physical damage, or manufacturing defects.

When a lithium-ion battery is breached, the electrolyte inside can come into contact with the air, causing a chemical reaction that can generate heat, spark, and even flames. This reaction can cause the battery to overheat and potentially catch fire.

Another potential risk is the release of flammable gases, which can also contribute to the spread of a fire. Additionally, if a lithium-ion battery is breached, the electrolyte inside can cause skin and eye irritation and may be harmful if ingested.

It's important to properly handle and store lithium-ion batteries and devices containing them, to minimize the risk of breaches and to follow manufacturers' guidelines and safety instructions. Read more about the risk lithium batteries pose on the ACCC website.

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