Power tool safety reminder

Public news

At the end of January this year, NT WorkSafe published a news story about the sudden ignition of a lithium-ion battery attached to a cordless impact wrench, and a timely reminder to treat power tools with care.

The power tool was left on the back seat of its owner’s car over a weekend in Darwin. The explosion occurred with the outside temperature only reaching 31°c.

Members should be particularly cautious in summer if an external temperature of 31°c is all it takes to heat the interior of a vehicle enough to ignite lithium-ion batteries.

However, this marker should not cause members to become complacent on cooler days – there is no official minimum temperature that is safe for a power tool to be left in a vehicle.

Due to the quick actions of the vehicle’s owner with a dry powder extinguisher, the explosion did not completely destroy the vehicle, but the interior was significantly damaged.

NT WorkSafe released a list of actions owners of lithium-ion powered equipment can take to prevent befalling the same fate as the unlucky Darwin resident:

  • Do not store or leave lithium-ion power tool batteries in areas that can become hot or in direct sunlight.
  • If you need to store lithium-ion power tool batteries in vehicles or areas that can become hot, undertake a risk assessment of available non-flammable storage options to contain a potential explosion of the battery and resulting fire.
  • Provide appropriate information or training to all staff on the correct storage of battery-operated power tools.
  • Review where batteries are charged and stored and ensure flammable materials are not present.
  • Follow the battery manufacturer’s advice.
  • Discuss the storage and transportation of lithium-ion batteries with your insurer to ensure you are covered in the event of a battery fire.

The power tool which exploded in Darwin was from a reputable manufacturer.

If you would like to review the Safe Operating Procedures of any of your workplace tools or equipment, browse our online SOP library.

If you would like more information on how you can protect your business from machinery malfunction, please contact our WR team on 8291 2000, or at wr@mtasant.com.au.