PHMSA Issues Emergency Prohibition Order Against Lithium Battery Manufacturer

Posted on 9/28/2016 by Roger Marks

After identifying multiple violations of hazardous materials law and regulations by a lithium battery manufacturer, the US DOT Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency prohibition order to halt the company from shipping non-compliant batteries.

In June this year, Federal Express reported to US DOT that a delivery truck carrying lithium batteries caught fire and that the manufacturer’s batteries were the suspected cause. Upon further investigation, FAA found that the company violated hazardous materials requirements by shipping lithium batteries that were:

  • Not proven to meet specific UN Manual of Tests and Criteria standards (specifically Part III, sub-section 38.3), and
  • Not properly classified or packaged.
On June 15, 2016, FAA ordered the company to stop shipping lithium batteries that did not meet UN test criteria. However, the company offered 20 more lithium-ion battery shipments for air transport over the next month, some of which were not proven to meet the test criteria.

Lithium batteriesIssued on September 16, 2017, and effectively immediately, the Emergency Prohibition Order puts a number of restrictions on the manufacturer. First, the company must immediately stop shipments of any lithium-ion batteries that do not meet the UN’s test criteria or are not properly prepared in accordance with the lithium battery rules at 49 CFR 173.185. When the company manufacturers a battery that is proven to “pass” UN testing, it must release a record of the test results to the public.

In addition, the company must notify any third-party vendors that offer their batteries for transportation to stop these shipments until the manufacturer can show the batteries meet UN standards.

Workers at any site who are involved in shipping hazardous materials must complete hazmat training at least once every three years, per 49 CFR 172.704. As part of this prohibition order, the lithium battery manufacturer may not allow any untrained employee to perform any function covered by the Hazardous Materials Regulations (i.e., classifying, naming, packaging, marking, labeling, loading, unloading, or documenting lithium batteries shipments).

Hazmat Training for Lithium Battery Ground, Air, and Vessel Shippers

If you ship lithium batteries, staying up to date on the latest rules is crucial to avoid incidents in transit, injury to employees and transportation workers, rejected shipments, and DOT fines now as high as $77,114 per day, per violation. The Shipping Lithium Batteries Online Course is designed to satisfy US DOT training mandates for hazmat shipping personnel at 49 CFR 172.704 and IATA 1.5 and help employees follow the specific, unique requirements for lithium battery shipments by ground, air, or vessel.

Want live, instructor-led training? The next Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar will cover the latest updates to US and international regulations from the shippers’ perspective and will be presented on November 8, 2016. Sign up now! 

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