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New Lithium Battery Air Rules Start Friday, 4/1

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Scott Dunsmore

Changes to the requirements for shipping lithium batteries have come fast and furious in 2016, especially for air shippers.

By the end of this week, on April 1, 2016, major changes will take effect for shipping lithium batteries under the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) revised 57th Edition Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR). Before the ink dried on the first set of revised DGR lithium battery rules, IATA posted Addendum II to make more changes, which also become mandatory on April 1, 2016. To help lithium battery shippers keep packages in compliance, today we will sort out ALL the April 1 changes and review any other changes whose compliance may be delayed.

April 1 IATA DGR Changes for Lithium Batteries by Air

There are four new restrictions that will apply to shipments of lithium-ion batteries shipped alone by air (“lithium-ion batteries” UN 3480):
  1. Packages containing only lithium-ion batteries (no equipment) will be permitted on cargo aircraft only. This requires all packages of these types going by air to include the “Cargo Aircraft Only” label.
  2. All packages containing lithium-ion batteries must be shipped at no more than 30% state of charge.
  3. Shippers may offer only one package per consignment of “small” lithium-ion cells or batteries (i.e., ≤ 2 Wh or ≤ 100 Wh, respectively) prepared in accordance with Section II of the applicable IATA packing instruction (i.e., PI 965). In addition, no more than one of these packages can be in a single overpack. The overpack must include the lithium battery handling label.
  4. The package of excepted “small” lithium-ion batteries must be offered separately from all other cargo and may not be pre-loaded in a Unit Load Device (ULD).
Get up to speed with the latest 49 CFR and IATA
rules at the Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar!

Next Live Session: Tuesday, April 5 

Rules for Section II (Small) Lithium Batteries

Packages of “small” lithium metal cells or batteries (i.e., ≤ 1 gram lithium or ≤ 2 grams of lithium, respectively) alone (i.e., PI 985, Section II) must comply with the following restrictions beginning on April 1:
  1. Shippers may offer no more than one package of excepted “small” lithium metal cells or batteries per consignment. In addition, only one of these packages can be in a single overpack. The overpack must include the lithium battery handling label.
  2. The package of excepted “small” lithium metal batteries must be offered separately from all other cargo and may not be pre-loaded in a Unit Load Device (ULD).
It is quite possible that an air carrier may require compliance with these rules prior to April 1, 2016, so it is important for the shipper to have a conversation with the carrier to fully understand the timing of these new requirements/restrictions.

Lithium Batteries Training for Shippers

Since these changes fundamentally affect how consignments of lithium battery air shipments are prepared, it will be necessary to provide update training to all affected hazmat employees prior to the April 1, 2016, deadline. To help you meet US DOT training requirements for typical hazmat employees who prepare lithium-ion and lithium-metal batteries, Lion offers an interactive, up-to-date Shipping Lithium Battery Online Course.

New Lithium Battery Labeling Rules Start Jan. 1, 2017

Also included in the 57th Edition DGR was a change to the exception for the lithium battery handling label and document. Previously, packages of “small” lithium-ion or lithium-metal batteries installed in equipment were excepted from the lithium battery handling label and hazard document, if the equipment contained any number of button cell batteries, four or fewer cells, or two or fewer batteries.

Starting January 1, 2017, packages with four or fewer “small” cells or two or fewer “small” batteries are only excepted from the handling label and document requirements if only one package is shipped by air in the consignment. So, if you prepare a pallet of 20 boxes of laptop computers with lithium-ion batteries installed for cargo aircraft, each package will have to have the lithium battery handling label and the consignment must be accompanied by a lithium battery handling document.

This new requirement does not take effect until January 1, 2017; however, IATA is encouraging compliance now. Some airlines may already require lithium battery shipments to comply with this pending labeling requirement.

Keeping up with the latest rules and restrictions for lithium battery shipments, especially air shipments, has been a challenge already in 2016. To prevent unnecessary delays in your shipping and keep your shipments in compliance, review the rules, confer with your airlines/operators, and update any necessary hazmat employee training as soon as is practicable.

Live Lithium Batteries Webinar on April 5

Get up to speed with new lithium battery rules mandatory as of April 1 at the live, expert-led Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar. Designed to get you up to speed on the latest rules to classify, name, package, mark, label, and document lithium battery shipments, the webinar combines the convenience of online training with live instructor interaction and Q&A. Be confident your lithium battery shipments comply with the April 1 rules to prevent rejected shipment, incidents in transit, and US DOT fines as high as $75,000 per day, per violation.
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