Hazard Alert: More fires linked to power tool batteries

Important safety information for power tool batteries

Hazard Alert: More fires linked to power tool batteries - Download and share

What happened: Number of fires increasing

Recently, there have been more reported fires linked to power tool batteries, especially lithium-ion batteries, in Ontario’s mining sector. These batteries are widely used for their strong power and stable voltage, but there’s a higher risk of fire or explosion if they are mishandled or not used correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Why did it happen: Understanding thermal runaway

Lithium-ion power tool batteries might experience something called “thermal runaway,” which is a chain reaction inside the battery causing a quick increase in temperature, internal short-circuit, heat generation, gas release, and potential battery failure. 

Thermal runaway fire can happen when batteries are exposed to over-charging, impact, crushing, piercing, vibration, or extreme external heat.

Depending on the battery’s charge level, thermal runaway could lead to battery cell rupture and a  risk of fires, explosions, and the release of harmful gases. These incidents not only endanger people but can also damage infrastructure and equipment.

How to prevent fires: Safety guidelines when using battery-powered tools

Use tools safely: Make sure workers know and follow safety guidelines when using battery-powered tools. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Protect the battery from impact, crushing, or exposure to extreme temperatures. Only use batteries and chargers from the original equipment manufacturer.

Regular maintenance: Check batteries regularly for damage, wear, or malfunctions. Replace damaged batteries immediately and stick to recommended maintenance schedules.

Storage and transportation: Keep batteries in well-ventilated areas away from heat sources and possible impacts. Secure batteries during transportation to prevent damage. 

Disposal guidelines: Follow company procedures and local regulations to safely dispose of batteries. Use specialized recycling programs for lithium-ion batteries to prevent environmental hazards.