US OSHA - Preventing Fire and/or Explosion Injury from Small and Wearable Lithium Battery Powered Devices

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Small and wearable electronic devices used in workplaces (e.g., body cameras) rely on a power source that stores a high amount of energy in a small space (i.e., high energy density). Lithium cells provide sustained power and often have the capability to recharge. When designed, manufactured, and used properly, lithium batteries are a safe, high energy density power source for devices in the workplace.

While lithium batteries are normally safe, they may cause injury if they have design defects, are made of low quality materials, are assembled incorrectly, are used or recharged improperly, or are damaged. In February 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Status Report on High Energy Density Batteries Project reported over 25,000 overheating or fire incidents involving more than 400 types of lithium battery-powered consumer products that occurred over a five-year period.

Many consumer products have practical applications in small and large businesses. Ensuring these products will operate safely in workplaces begins with using batteries, chargers, and associated equipment that are tested in accordance with an appropriate test standard (e.g., UL 2054) and certified by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL). Manufacturer’s instructions provide procedures for use, charging, and maintenance that is specific to each device and necessary to prevent damage to the lithium batteries. For example, some batteries will overcharge if a charger is used that does not turn off when the battery is fully charged.



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