AMSJ » ‘Dangerous’ power tool explodes, damaging work vehicle

‘Dangerous’ power tool explodes, damaging work vehicle

Cordless drill
Cordless drill

One maintenance worker found out why some battery-powered tools are called dangerous goods.

The anonymous Territorian thought it was a good idea to leave his cordless impact wrench on the back seat of his light vehicle with the lithium-ion battery still attached back on January 23.

Darwin’s weather forecast for that day was nearly 32 degrees Celsius and, after standing for just one hour, the vehicle’s cabin temperature could have soared to almost 55 degrees according to the Inside Car Calculator website. This extreme temperature caused the “reputable” branded tool to ignite.

“A lithium-ion battery attached to a cordless impact wrench exploded after it was left on the back seat of a vehicle over the weekend,” NT WorkSafe said in a safety alert.

The flame was so intense it also spread to the car upholstery and caused extensive fire and smoke damage. Nobody was inside the vehicle at the time.

“The explosion ignited other material left on the seat and severely damaged the interior of the vehicle,” the statutory body said.

Lithium-ion batteries are already classified as dangerous goods under the Australian Dangerous Goods Code, and should be stored in a cool location away from direct sunlight.

“There are specific requirements to package, store and transport these types of batteries and the devices – and equipment they are found in – due to the potential dangers the batteries pose,” NT WorkSafe director technical services Anthony Waite said in a public statement.

“The main message we have is not to leave or store lithium-ion batteries in hot areas, or in direct sunlight, as they can explode and cause a fire risk in your business or home.”

Workplaces that use lithium-ion batteries are urged to take the following precautions:

  • do not store or leave lithium-ion power tool batteries in areas that can become hot or in direct sunlight
  • perform a risk assessment of available non-flammable storage options to contain a potential explosion
  • provide appropriate information or training to all staff on the correctly storing battery-operated power tools
  • make sure your insurance policy covers battery fires
  • follow the battery manufacturer’s advice.

Click here to read the full safety alert.

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AMSJ April 2022