Lithium Battery Regulations Effective Feb. 2015


February 6, 2015 marked the start of a new nationwide ruling that could halt shipments for millions of products throughout the nation. The ruling, issued by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is regarding lithium batteries.

Does your company handle a package with products such as:

  • Laptops
  • Cell phones
  • Battery-powered toys
  • Implantable electronic medical devices
  • Power tools
  • Watches
  • Camcorders
  • Digital cameras
  • Thermometers
  • Calculators

If these shipments are not packaged appropriately, carriers could reject the shipments, causing delays for you.

This ruling introduces stringent marking, documentation and packaging requirements to highway, rail and vessel transport. It creates a universal standard, tightens the requirements on the shipping of these batteries and defines about how they will be stored.

Until now, if a shipment contained no more than 12 batteries or 24 cells, no hazard label or documentation was needed. The new regulations no longer include this 12 battery/24 cell relief.

There will be many companies caught off guard when one considers the millions of packages that make it through the supply chain every day. Some airlines are not accepting lithium batteries on cargo planes, a move that would affect many companies. With medical device manufacturers, 99 percent of the products are sent by air.

Now with a single-battery or cell shipment, new labels are required and these products are going to be regulated as dangerous goods.

While lithium battery related fires aboard aircraft and other transportation vessels are rare, they can and do happen and present huge consequences.

Many batteries are manufactured overseas, but not all nations are following the rules. International rules just need to be better enforced. In nations such as China, there is no enforcement on safely shipping batteries.

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If your company needs to get your products to market, you can’t have something held up at the airport for five days while you sort out labeling problems.

The final rule will:

  • Enhance packaging and hazard communication requirements for lithium batteries transported by air;
  • Replace equivalent lithium content with Watt-hours for lithium ion cells and batteries;
  • Adopt separate shipping descriptions for lithium metal batteries and lithium ion batteries;
  • Revise provisions for the transport of small and medium lithium cells and batteries including cells and batteries packed with, or contained in, equipment;
  • Revise the requirements for the transport of lithium batteries for disposal or recycling;
  • Harmonize the provisions for the transport of low production and prototype lithium cells and batteries with the ICAO Technical Instructions and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code; and
  • Adopt new provisions for the transport of damaged, defective, and recalled lithium batteries.

Our Professional Services Group can help ensure you are in compliance with these new regulations. Call 800-355-8267 or email us today to schedule an appointment.


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