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Shipping Lithium Battery Products May Get Easier

Aug. 8, 2014
U.S. DOT has issued new rules for marking, labeling and shipping products containing lithium ion batteries.

A newly released Final Rule incorporates international standards into the US DOT’s Hazardous Materials Regulations, affecting shipment of lithium batteries in or from the U.S. The new regulations are effective immediately, and shippers have until February 6, 2015 to ensure their shipments are in compliance.

Among the major changes introduced by this rulemaking are:

  • New classification criteria for lithium ion cells and batteries;
  • New marking and labeling requirements for lithium battery shipments; 
  • New requirements for transporting lithium batteries for disposal or recycling;
  • New provisions for shipping and transporting damaged, defective, and recalled lithium batteries;
  • Separate shipping descriptions for lithium metal and lithium ion batteries; and
  • Revised provisions for shipping “small” and “medium” cells and batteries.

Regulatory inconsistency among global regulatory bodies has equated to the potential for frustrated shipments and confusion among shippers in the regulated community, states a blog on the website of Labelmaster, which provides regulatory information and products focused on the transportation of hazardous materials. Comments taken during the rulemaking development stage indicated that “differences between U.S. and international requirements for lithium batteries detract from safety by creating confusion and excessively complicating the detailed set of regulations that already apply to lithium battery shipments.”

The U.S. DOT requires all hazmat shipping employees to complete training once every three years and as rules change that affect their responsibilities. [49 CFR 172.704] With this ruling, for the first time, U.S. DOT lithium battery shipping regulations will now be harmonized with international standards such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as well as the UN Model Regulations.

To help lithium battery shippers prepare for compliance with the new DOT requirements, organizations like Labelmaster and Lion Technology offer training tools, services and education. For example, Lion will present the Shipping Lithium Batteries Webinar September 11, September 23, and October 21. It will cover the latest regulations for shipping lithium ion or metal batteries by ground, air, and ocean.