A record 78% of adults in the US plan to give tech products and services as gifts this holiday season, according to research from the Consumer Technology Association.*
Many of the hottest tech gifts of 2022 are powered by lithium batteries, like wireless earbuds/headphones, fitness tracking watches, VR gaming equipment, heated gloves and socks, and (of course) smartphones.
To get these gifts to customers—and return them to vendors after the holidays—manufacturers, retailers, and distributors must comply with the latest lithium battery quantity limits, size limits, limits on state-of-charge, packaging requirements, marking and labeling rules, and standards for hazmat employee training.
Hazmat training is required to ship lithium batteries, whether the batteries are packaged by themselves, with equipment, or inside of equipment.
*Source: Consumer Technology Association, CTA Previews the Hottest Tech Gifts of 2022
Increased Risk During Holiday Season
The holiday season brings an increased risk of workplace and transportation incidents involving lithium batteries as more packages than usual are shipped by ground, air, and vessel.
Without adequate hazmat training, employees—including inexperienced seasonal and temp workers—can make mistakes that lead to packages being rejected by carriers or removed from transportation due to noncompliance.
When packaged improperly, lithium batteries can short circuit in transportation and produce smoke, sparks, and fire. In March of this year, the US Coast Guard held and searched forty-eight shipping containers following an incident involving a shipment of lithium batteries that was mis-declared, improperly packaged, and lacking appropriate markings and labels.
Learn more: Why Do Lithium Batteries Burn?
Major airlines have expressed concerns about battery fires on aircraft, leading the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to suggest four steps that governments and industry can take to limit incidents involving lithium batteries in air transportation.
In May 2022, US DOT PHMSA released a twelve-page Safety Advisory Notice related to transportation of lithium batteries for recycling or disposal (Read more).
Regulations for Lithium Battery Shipments
To limit the risk of an incident in transport, detailed US and international regulations apply to lithium batteries shipped by all modes of transportation. Shippers—from manufacturers and large retailers to the smallest e-commerce shop—must comply with relevant modal requirements in 49 CFR, the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), and the IMDG Code.
The regulations for shipping lithium batteries address considerations including (but not limited to):
- Classification based on Watt hour rating or lithium metal content,
- Packaging batteries properly to prevent short circuits or damage,
- Affixing required markings, labels, and other hazard communications,
- Providing documentation and emergency response info with shipments,
- More restrictive standards for damaged or defective batteries, and
- Exceptions for smaller lithium cells or batteries (in some cases).
The lithium battery shipping regulations were revised recently: The 64th Edition of the IATA DGR takes effect on January 1, 2023, and includes five noteworthy updates for lithium battery shippers, for example.
Skipping required training or re-training for employees who package or offer hazmat shipments may seem like a way to move a few more shipments out the door during the holiday rush.
But the costs of noncompliance—injuries, shipping delays, fires during transportation (and the incident reports filed by carriers), and civil penalties of about $90,000 per day, per violation—make the choice to train employees as required an easy one.
Shipping Lithium Batteries Training
Lion's Shipping Lithium Batteries online course covers the latest regulations for shipping lithium batteries in-equipment, with-equipment, or separately by ground, air, and vessel, including new IATA DGR standards for air shippers.
The course provides hazmat general awareness, security awareness, and function-specific training to help satisfy US DOT (49 CFR), IATA DGR, and IMDG Code training mandates for logistics leaders and hazmat employees involved in shipping lithium batteries by all modes of transportation (Learn more).
Browse all upcoming workshops, including training coming in 2023, at Lion.com/Hazmat.