Most businesses have failed to do risk assessments about the hazards posed by lithium batteries in the workplace, it’s been revealed.
Statistics suggest that 85% of companies have not included the fire threat from overheating lithium batteries in their health and safety precautions.
The data was collected by international fire and safety news publishers IFSEC Insider and Firechief Global after surveying more than 500 organisations.
Lithium batteries power all our everyday personal electronic items such as laptops, mobile phones, vapes, headphones and iPads along with modes of transport such as e-scooters and e-bikes.
But the batteries can and do go wrong if they’ve been damaged, overheat or have been bought cheaply on the internet and fail to meet safety standards.
When this happens they go into what’s known as thermal runaway causing one cell in a battery to produce enough heat – up to 900°C (1652°F) – which instantly leads to adjacent cells also overheating. This can cause a lithium battery fire to flare repeatedly and they are then very difficult to put out which is why lithium battery fire risk assessments are vital on passenger aircraft and more than 100 airlines carry AvSax fire mitigation bags on board almost 17,000 aircraft worldwide. The bags are made from military grade material so will contain the device even if it explodes.
But this same attention to the risks posed by lithium batteries is not done by many businesses on the ground.
Firechief Global managing director Laurie Pollard said: “A typical workplace is likely to have many devices containing lithium-ion batteries. There will be mobile phones, laptops, e-bikes, e-scooters and electric vehicles being used, stored and charged on site and that’s before considering other equipment such as forklift trucks, power tools and energy storage systems so it makes sense to assess the fire risk these could pose should the worst happen and then have an action plan in place to mitigate those risks.”
AvSax (https://avsax.com/) are made by UK company Environmental Defence Systems Ltd which won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its innovation, the highest award any business can get.
EDS is now doing research and development on how it can use the same technology on items that use bigger batteries, especially e-scooters which have been responsible for many serious and sometimes fatal fires.
To read the full IFSEC Insider/Firechief Global story go to https://bit.ly/3uQkV0A