How Do You Store Your Old Batteries? Is it a Fire Risk?

As technology has advanced over the years, so has the need for better, more powerful and durable batteries to run our technological lifestyles. We have also become more aware of the need to recycle all sorts of things from paper and cardboard to food waste and batteries. However, whilst recycling food waste and paper may not pose a problem, how we store our old batteries for recycling can be a potential fire hazard.

Since 2006, a piece of European legislation came in to force and is known as the Battery Directive and since its implementation businesses have been storing batteries on site ready for collection to be recycled. Whilst the Health and Safety Executive have deemed battery storage on business premises a low risk, a number of fires have occurred in premises where batteries have been stored. It appears that, especially with lithium batteries, or 9V batteries where the two terminals are on the top of the battery, the fire has started because there has been a short circuit across the terminals of the battery causing the battery to overheat and the heat build up in the battery has ultimately lead to a fire starting.

So how can fires caused by storing batteries be reduced or prevented ? Certainly battery storage on your business premises should form part of your Health and Safety risk assessment and should look at the following basic common sense precautions when storing batteries for recycling. Here are a couple of bullet points to help you in this process:

  • Always store batteries in accordance with manufacturers instructions
  • Store batteries in non combustible containers and store away from other combustible materials and heaters
  • Keep in a well ventilated area but out of direct sunlight
  • Tape terminals or use a plastic cover over terminals to prevent short circuits, particularly with lithium batteries, or 9V batteries such as PP3 where terminals are side by side on one face of the battery
  • Where possible, store lithium batteries outside.
  • Don’t allow batteries to become damaged, crushed or punctured
  • Don’t store batteries on fire escape routes
  • Ensure regular collection to prevent build up of large quantities of batteries

This list is by no means exhaustive and you may already have systems in place to ensure safe storage of old batteries. But whatever your situation, make sure your business and premises are kept safe from fire when storing old batteries for recycling.

About Gary Hepburn

Gary Hepburn is Managing Director of Sirius Business Services Ltd who are approved suppliers of the Practice Index and offer, Basic Life Support, AED and Anaphylaxis, Fire Safety and Health & Safety consultancy and training to GP Practices, Dental Practices and Private Hospitals. Visit their page on The Practice Index. Gary is happy to discuss any issues, or concerns Practice Managers may have with existing providers, or to give advice on how the standard of training can be checked, email him at or Telephone 01305 769969