Aging Lithium Batteries Represent a Neglected Safety Hazard

Top battery expert Global Technology Systems offers insight and guidelines on Lithium battery safety and disposal.

Lithium Battery

Millions of Lithium batters are used in mobile devices every day, and safety has become an issue. With incidents reported of trucks carrying Lithium batteries catching fire, mobile phones catching fire and an explosion of a New York Police Department body camera due to a battery malfunction, more people are discarding their Lithium batteries improperly.

"What people and companies fail to realize is that aging Lithium batteries are highly volatile - even ticking time bombs in some cases. And most overlooked this truly significant safety hazard," says John Rodrigues, vice president at Global Technology Systems, Inc. (GTS). "There are myriad reasons a battery can catch fire or even explode. In the most recent event in Staten Island, the batter might have shorted out, been overcharged causing the battery to swell, or suffered an mipact which caused a short-circuit condition."

In order to avoid hazards, battery safety and disposal guidelines must take place and should include:

  • Track the purchase dates and ages of batteries and use color coding to distinguish purchase dates. This will help to determine how long a battery has been in service when the time comes to replace the batteries. Following this procedure also helps to ensure your batteries are always replaced before productivity is lost.
  • Label each device with its own unique number.
  • Label each battery charger and charging slot (if applicable) with the same number that corresponds with the associated device. Label the batteries with the same unique number as the corresponding device and charger.
  • Replace batteries at the optimal time. Typically, batteries should be replaced every 18 months for users with average usage patterns (i.e. an 8-hour shift in a retail environment). Replace batteries every 12 months for users with moderate to high usage patterns (i.e. a 24/7 warehouse environment)
  • When your batteries are no longer able to provide the appropriate charge, dispose of them properly. “Old” Lithium batteries become more volatile with age and are at high risk of catching fire. Proper disposal also better sustains the environment.