FAA Hazmat Interpretation: Lithium Batteries by Air

Posted on 9/25/2017 by Roger Marks

Last month, FAA posted a hazmat interpretation letter regarding lithium batteries packed in equipment—a point of confusion for many shippers given the evolving nature of lithium battery transport regulations in the US and internationally.

In this scenario, the company uses temperature recorders to monitor the temperature of its materials during air transport. Each temperature recorder is powered by a small lithium-metal battery containing less than 2 grams of lithium-metal content.

The question is with respect to the lithium battery marking requirement at 49 CFR 173.185(c)(3), which reads:

(3) Hazard communication. Each package must display the lithium battery mark except when a package contains button cell batteries installed in equipment (including circuit boards), or no more than four lithium cells or two lithium batteries contained in equipment, where there are not more than two packages in the consignment.

6 Packages—2 Batteries

lithium-mark.JPGThe company in this scenario offered six packages on a pallet, only two of which contained the battery-powered temperature recorders.

Though they offered two or fewer batteries, the company asked FAA if—because they offered six total packages in the consignment—they were still required to use the lithium battery mark. After all, the exception to the marking requirement includes the phrase “where there are not more than two packages in the consignment.”

In this case, the lithium battery mark is not required. As FAA writes in their response, “Although there are additional packages within the consignment, the additional packagers are not included in the calculation of number of packages in the consignment limit, because they do not contain any lithium batteries.”  

Is This Common Sense?

It may seem like common sense that packages that don’t contain lithium batteries are not counted when determining the applicability of hazard communication requirements specific to lithium batteries.
But, common sense is not always our best tool for de-coding Federal regulations. More often, success requires close reading, attention to detail, and the willingness to ask questions when something doesn’t seem right.

Unfortunately, what seems to make sense does not always gel with what’s written in the CFR.

Training to Ship Lithium Batteries - Live or Online 

Don’t rely on common sense to keep your shipments in compliance with Federal and international hazmat regulations. Be confident your employees know the risks lithium batteries pose, and how to properly prepare them for transport. With rules this complex, what you already know will only get you so far.

Lithium_Ion_Battery_1.jpgJoin us at the Lion Training Center on October 18 for comprehensive lithium battery training to classify, package, mark, label, handle, and document your lithium battery shipments. Whether you ship batteries alone, in equipment, or with equipment, this unique one-day workshop guide you through the complex regulations that apply to your lithium battery ground, air, or vessel shipments. 

The Shipping Lithium Batteries Online Course provides full hazmat/DG training on all the 49 CFR, IATA DGR, and IMDG Code rules your team must follow to keep lithium battery shipments moving by ground, air, or vessel. Learn the latest rules to prevent rejected shipments, emergencies in transit, and DOT fines now as high as $78,376 per day, per violation.  Sign up now! 

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