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Air Carriers Want More Action on Lithium Battery Safety

Posted on 6/29/2022 by Roseanne Bottone and Roger Marks

In a recent press release, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) renewed its call for governments to increase enforcement of lithium battery transportation regulations.

Citing 30% annual growth of the lithium battery market bringing many new shippers into the supply chain, IATA has concerns about mis-declared and undeclared lithium battery shipments offered into the cycle of transportation.

IATA calls for “stiffer penalties for rogue shippers” and criminal enforcement related to willful violations of hazardous materials safety requirements. The organization notes actions that have been taken in recent years, including changes to the Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) for lithium battery air shipments that took effect on April 1, 2022. 

To further improve lithium battery transportation safety, IATA would like governments to:
  • Develop safety-related screening standards and processes for lithium batteries that increase efficiency for compliant shippers;
  • Develop and implement fire-testing standard that addresses lithium battery fire containment; and
  • Enhance data collection and sharing between governments.
"Safety data is critical to understanding and managing lithium battery risks effectively. Without sufficient relevant data there is little ability to understand the effectiveness of any measures. Better information sharing and coordination on lithium battery incidents among governments and with the industry is essential to help managing lithium battery risks effectively.”

IATA Press Release

The press release coincided with IATA’s 78th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit, held in Qatar on June 19—21.

Lithium Battery Transportation Incidents

Incidents involving lithium batteries and battery-powered devices aboard aircraft are one of many “serious incident” types for which US DOT requires immediate reporting to the National Response Center (49 CFR 171.15(b)(6)). A follow-up written report is also required on DOT Form 5800.1.  

Air Carriers Want More Action on Lithium Battery Safety

Hazmat incident report data available to the public indicates that, in 2021, DOT received about one hundred and fifty reports involving lithium batteries transported by air. This includes batteries packaged alone, with equipment, and in equipment.

While many of these incidents involved batteries and devices carried aboard the plane by passengers, many others were the result of shippers offering undeclared or mis-declared lithium batteries for transportation as cargo.
“Stronger enforcement of existing regulations and the criminalization of abuses will send a strong signal to rogue shippers.”

Willie Walsh, Director General (IATA)

US FAA maintains a chart of lithium battery events with smoke, fire, extreme heat, or explosion. Since January of 2006, FAA has recorded 373 aviation incidents involving lithium batteries carried as cargo or baggage. FAA updated the chart most recently on June 1, 2022.

Shipping Lithium Batteries Training

The Shipping Lithium Batteries online course provides required hazardous materials/dangerous goods training for managers and employees who ship lithium batteries by ground, air, or ocean.

The course covers the latest 49 CFR (US DOT), IATA DGR, and IMDG Code regulations that shippers must know to ship lithium-ion and -metal batteries and cells in-equipment, with-equipment, or by themselves. The course also covers additional requirements for damaged, defective, and recalled lithium batteries and cells.

Train at your own pace or join us for the next live, instructor-led webinar on August 25, 2022.  

Tags: hazmat shipping, hazmat training, IATA DGR, lithium batteries, lithium batteries by air, lithium battery training

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