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OSHA issues a Safety and Health Information Bulletin With Lithium Batteries

March 13, 2019

Safety Issues Pertaining to Lithium Batteries and Lithium Battery Powered Devices Addressed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OHSA”)

Washington D.C. – According to, in addressing certain fire and explosion hazards of lithium batters, issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin warning employers and employees of said hazards that stem from these batteries used to power small or wearable electronic devices.

Over twenty five thousand overheating and fire incidents have been associated with lithium batteries in more than four hundred types of battery powered devices.  This occurred between 2012 and 2017.

As a result, OSHA issued a Safety and Health Information Bulletin intended to warn employers and workers of the potential for fire and explosion hazards caused by lithium batteries used to power small and wearable electronic devices.

“Lithium batteries are generally safe and unlikely to malfunction (i.e., fail), but only so long as there are no defects and the batteries are not damaged,” OSHA states in the Jan. 18 bulletin. “When lithium batteries fail to operate safely, they may present a fire or explosion hazard.”

Following physical impact, battery damage may happen, as well as from exposure to extremely high or low temperatures and the failure to follow the recommendations by manufacturer.

OSHA’s advice for prevention and training includes:

  • Ensure that the lithium batteries and other equipment are subject to testing under relevant standards, which are certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Lab and rated for their intended use;
  • Remove lithium powered devices from chargers when fully charged;
  • Place equipment and each battery in containers that are fire resistant, and in cooler and dry locations;
  • Inspect electronic devices to determine whether it is cracked and if there are bulges, the device hisses, leaks or smokes, especially if you wear these devices. If any of these conditions are present, remove the battery immediately;
  • If workers notice that the device feels hot, check for indications of damage;
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s guide or policies of the employer if you have to put out a fire caused by the battery; and
  • “Ensure that an emergency action plan for a workplace with lithium-powered devices or batteries includes lithium-related incident response procedures based on manufacturers’ instructions for responding to battery failures, including fires or explosions,” OSHA states.

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.