Lead Acid Battery Storage Regulations
New & used lead acid battery storage regulations are very similar where both must be stored and handled in accordance with applicable dangerous goods, environmental and workplace health and safety legislation.
If you are conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace whereby you are storing either new or used lead acid batteries, then you need to ensure that you are complying with the relevant regulations. Many companies are unaware of all the regulatory requirements controlling lead acid batteries and the “Duty of Care” and “Chain of Responsibility” provisions which can make Companies and its Executives personally liable.
Below I have provided a general overview of the lead acid battery storage regulations for new & used or waste batteries, which hopefully will fast track your research and understanding of the requirements that govern the onsite storage and handling of lead acid batteries.
Go to this page, if you are more concerned with lead acid battery transport regulations.
If you are looking for a “regulation compliant”, safe and environmentally sustainable battery collection and recycling service, please visit our home page
So what are the various regulations governing the storage of lead acid batteries?
First of all I am going to assume that your business / organisation does not deal in significant volumes of lead acid batteries (i.e. that you would not store at any particular time in excess of 300 regular car batteries or about 5 Tonnes – please note this may vary from state to state). If you do, that’s another topic which I won’t cover here.
In recent years there have been a couple of positive developments on the regulatory front. Firstly back in 2011 Safe Work Australia developed a single set of Work Health & Safety (WHS) laws to be implemented across Australia, with the worthy goal of trying to standardise our WHS laws across each state. These are known as ‘model’ laws and for the model WHS laws to become legally binding, States and Territories must separately implement them as their own. These model laws have been implemented in every Australian jurisdiction except Western Australia.
And the good news doesn’t stop there, unless of course you live in Western Australia. In 2012 Australia signed up to implement the UN’s Global Harmonisation System of classification and labelling of chemicals, with a commitment to have implemented the GHS system by 1st January 2017. This achieved in all states except WA, where a state election got in the way. The remainder of Australia has now been incorporated the GHS into their Work Health & Safety Regulations. So the upshot of this is that now most of Australia has one set of regulations that control the safe storage and handling of lead acid batteries, provided you don’t exceed the quantities mentioned previously.
For a summary of the WHS Laws implemented in your state, go to, “Other Useful Information Sources Regarding Used Lead Acid Battery Storage Regulations”
If you operate in WA you will need to familarise yourself with the Western Australian regulations for the storage of used lead acid batteries.
So which parts of the WHS Regulations are relevant to lead acid batteries?
Once you have found the relevant WHS Regulations for your state / territory I would suggest you download this document. There are 3 main Chapters that concern new & used lead acid battery storage regulations (and handling).
The first should be a Chapter titled “Hazardous Work”, this should appear as Chapter 4(I haven’t checked each States regulations to verify this) and the relevant part is “4.2 Hazardous Manual Tasks”. This is relevant because batteries are heavy and often exceed the recommended lifting weight of 20kg.
The second relevant chapter is the “General Workplace Management” and the sub section “Hazardous Atmospheres” – Lead acid batteries, particularly new batteries are a potential ignition source, so appropriate steps must be taken to eliminate this risk.
The third relevant Chapter titled “Hazardous Chemicals” and should appear as chapter 7. This Chapter contains several divisions that are relevant, including;
- Obligations relating to safety data sheets and other matters
- Register and manifest of hazardous Chemicals
- Control of risk—obligations of persons conducting businesses or undertakings
- Health monitoring
- Induction, information, training and Supervision
Some of these provisions are beyond the scope of this article, however I have provided some further explanation on some of the most salient requirements for new & used lead acid batteries.
Division 1 – Safety Data Sheets and other matters
Subdivision 3 deals with the labelling requirements which aren’t relevant for batteries as they must be supplied with the relevant GHS labels, however it also requires businesses to make available a current Safety Data Sheet for the their batteries and this must be readily available. You battery supplier must provide you with a Safety Data Sheet when they sell you batteries.
Division 2 & 3 – Manifest of Hazardous Chemicals and Placards
One of the confusing requirements of the GHS is determining the placard and manifest quantities for hazardous chemicals. For lead acid batteries (new & used) this is difficult because there are several applicable Hazard Class’ and Hazard Categories that apply (e.g. Metal Corrosion Catgeory1, Acute Toxicity (Oral) Category 4, Skin Corrosion Category 1A etc), which each specify different placard and manifest quantities – so which one applies?. At this stage most States appear to be taking the practical approach of reverting to their dangerous goods storage and handling regulations when accessing placard and manifest quantities. Which means that unless you are storing quantities in the vicinity of more than 300 regular car batteries ,you will not need to placard your storage location nor maintain a manifest unless your are storing quantities of a couple of thousand batteries.
Division 4 – Controls of risk, contains a relevant subdivision “Spill & Damage” that states:
“A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that where there is a risk from a spill or leak of a hazardous chemical in a solid or liquid form, provision is made in each part of the workplace where the hazardous chemical is used, handled, generated or stored for a spill containment system that contains within the workplace any part of the hazardous chemical that spills or leaks, and any resulting effluent”
I highlight this provision because it is a common requirement that is not met by many companies. Your Used Lead Acid Batteries should be stored in a bunded area (or device) and undercover to prevent any acid leaking into the environment. Battery acid contains high levels of lead, which is one of the most toxic substances known to humans and wildlife. If stored outdoors they should be stored in a weather proof container with a bunded base for capturing and retaining any acid leaks.
More specific details for the above requirements can often be found, if it exists in your State, in a relevant Code of Practice. Most states / territories will have a code of practice that deals with “Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace”. More on this in the section below…
What are the WHS, Codes of Practice and how do they apply to the storage requirements for lead acid batteries?
Model Codes of Practice are practical guides for carrying specific work activities in a way that would meet the health & safety standards outlined in the model WHS Act and Regulations. CoP are not law however are admissible in a court of law and may be used by courts determine whether appropriate methods were used.
A model Code of Practice must be approved in your state or territory to be legally enforceable. Check your state / territory WHS regulator to determine if a relevant Code of Practice has been approved.
If your local jurisdiction has approved a code of practice for “Managing risks of hazardous chemicals in the workplace”, I would recommend you refer to this for more specific recommendations.
Chapter 4 should deal (remember this may vary from state to state) with “Controlling Risks” and the section “Isolation / Isolate chemicals from other chemicals” is particularly relevant if you are storing other hazardous chemicals or non compatible goods, such as food, in the vicinity of your used lead acid batteries.
Are There Any Environmental Regulations That Apply To The Storage of Lead Acid Batteries?
Most State’s environmental regulations provide provisions to protect against the discharge of any hazardous chemicals or substance into the environment. Inspections and enforcement of these requirements is often carried out by the local council. Essentially your Lead Acid Batteries should be stored in a bunded area (or device) and undercover to prevent the occurrence of an unauthorised discharge event.
Hopefully I have helped you on your journey to understanding the requirements and your obligations concerning lead acid battery storage regulations. If you have any questions call your State branch of WorkSafe or you can contact me on 0414 646 321.
Please note that the information I have provided here is general in nature. Companies must do their own research to understand their legal obligations in each jurisdiction and to ensure that they are fully compliant with the lead acid battery storage regulations.
Other Useful Information Sources Regarding Used Lead Acid Battery Storage Regulations
- Safe Work Australia developed the Model Work Health And Safety Act supported by WHS Regulations to improve national harmonisation of work safety laws. These have been approved by most States and Territories, who are responsible for regulating and enforcing the laws in their jurisdictions (WA is the exception). To look up the relevant WHS or OHS regulations for your state go to www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/law-and-regulation/law-your-state. Also look up here whether there are any relevant Codes of Practice such as “Managing Hazardous Chemicals in the Workplace” that have been adopted in your state.
- Australian Standard for Storing & Handling Corrosives 3780:2008 – This publication can be purchased from a number of online providers. Section 2 deals with provisions for Minor Storage, which applies if the combined volume of acid contained by the batteries is less than 1000L.
- Century Batteries, Safety Data Handling Sheet for Lead Acid Batteries.
- UNISEG Products’ Used Car Battery Storage Container