Navigating the Risks of Lithium Batteries

In today’s tech-driven world, lithium batteries have become ubiquitous, powering everything from smartphones and laptops to electric vehicles. While these batteries play a crucial role in modern life and are pivotal in emission reduction strategies, it’s imperative to acknowledge the inherent risks associated with them.

Understanding Lithium Batteries
Lithium or lithium-ion batteries are compact rechargeable power sources known for their high energy density. Unlike conventional batteries, they employ different chemicals and internal processes. However, their volatile nature makes them highly flammable, capable of causing fires leading to property damage and severe injuries such as smoke inhalation, chemical exposure, and burns, particularly if they overheat or explode.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has received numerous product safety reports related to lithium batteries over the years, highlighting the importance of handling them with care. Proper usage, charging, and disposal are essential to mitigate risks.

Safe Handling Practices
For businesses utilising equipment powered by lithium batteries, implementing safety measures is crucial. Store batteries in cool, dry areas away from flammable materials. Once charging is complete, ensure chargers are unplugged, and batteries are allowed to cool before reuse. Avoid overloading circuits during charging, as it can pose hazards, especially in buildings with compromised electrical infrastructure.

Disposal Guidelines
Disposing of lithium batteries and chargers safely is paramount, especially if they exhibit signs of overheating or failure. These batteries are prone to catching fire when exposed to heat, moisture, or physical damage. Therefore, they should not be discarded in regular office bins. Instead, utilise hazardous waste collection points or battery recycling services offered by reputable retailers. It’s advisable to tape over the terminals before disposal to prevent accidental activation.

Risk Reduction for Businesses
While insurers typically haven’t excluded lithium battery incidents from coverage, liability issues remain untested in court. To minimize risks, businesses should maintain batteries and chargers in good condition and equip premises with appropriate fire extinguishers capable of combating lithium battery fires.

Insurance Protection
Securing comprehensive insurance coverage is essential for safeguarding businesses against various accidents and incidents. Insurance brokers can provide valuable insights into emerging risks, such as those associated with lithium batteries, helping businesses make informed decisions regarding suitable coverage options.

It’s important to note that the information provided is of a general nature and may not account for specific financial situations or needs. Insurance policies vary among providers, with deductibles, exclusions, and limits applying. Businesses should consult with their insurance brokers to assess their individual requirements and obtain tailored coverage.

For more information, contact our office on (08) 6184 8724 or