Written by Tracey Thibeau, CSS, Senior Safety Consultant
Lithium ion batteries power our lives. With rising demand for cell phones, digital cameras, laptops, vehicles and e-cigarettes, these batteries are being packaged, shipped, and stored in increasing quantities.
While most lithium batteries are safe when properly packaged and shipped, there are serious risks to public and workers safety when shipping companies aren’t compliant. That’s why regulators take lithium battery packing and shipping so seriously.
For decades, Transport Canada has regulated the shipment of lithium batteries under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Act. Recent changes in the US suggest regulations in Canada will soon become even tighter.
In March, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed down new laws governing the transportation of lithium batteries, effectively immediately. Canadian industry experts expect our government to harmonize regulations with the US imminently. That means companies transporting lithium batteries have more reason than ever to ensure compliance.
What you need to know about shipping lithium batteries
The main risk with lithium battery shipping is fire and explosion. When damaged or short-circuited, lithium batteries can overheat, igniting within seconds or over several hours.
Leaking batteries can also emit toxic gases and are corrosive.
While the failure rate is low, the impact can be catastrophic. Batteries that catch fire on board a plane, truck, train or ship can destroy the vehicle, cause collisions and fatalities.
Transport Canada cites recent incidents, including:
- Fires on cargo and passenger planes from overheated lithium batteries in computers
- An explosion on a US mini-submarine from a charging lithium battery
- Lithium battery packs in checked baggage that burst into flames when handled by an airline agent
In 2017, the FAA proposed a fine of $1.1M for improper shipping of lithium batteries, resulting in a transportation truck fire that destroyed the vehicle.
Transportation safety consultant, Tracey Thibeau, notes that in Canada, companies improperly shipping lithium batteries can be shut down if they fail to correct a compliance issue within 30 days of a citation. Fines are also common.
But above all else, companies should care about lithium battery shipping safety because of the risks to workers and the public. It’s only a matter of time, says Thibeau, before a lithium-related trucking incident makes news in Canada. Compliance is an investment that will save lives.
Get better lithium TDG safety training now
Most hazards and compliance failures stem from a lack of knowledge. Many companies and workers don’t know how to safely pack lithium batteries and choose the right mode of transportation.
Danatec by Yardstick Training is raising the bar on awareness this March. The new TDG Lithium Batteries Online Training provides learners with best-in-industry online education on packaging, shipping and storing lithium batteries.
Learners who complete the course will be able to:
- Distinguish among various types and quantities of lithium batteries
- Assess and mitigate the hazards of packaging, shipping, and storing various types and quantities of lithium batteries
- Apply the correct UN number, name, hazard class, and packing group for each type of lithium battery
- Recognize and apply the regulations comprising Special Provisions and/or Exemptions
- Choose appropriate reference documentation and find the required information
Created by transportation industry experts, Danatec’s newest course is the smart choice for companies who know safety goes beyond reading regulations. It’s engaging, in-depth and easy-to-use.
Plus, when you train with Danatec, you can get direct answers to your shipping safety questions from transportation safety experts, like Thibeau, a phone call away. Our experts are what have made Danatec the most recognized and trusted name in safety education for 33 years.
Get the new course at danatec.com/lithium.