Lithium Battery Week is coming! Dangerous Goods Symposium preview, part 2

Finally, Dangerous Goods professionals get their own Shark Week.

September 14–18 is Lithium Battery Week at the Dangerous Goods Symposium. Unlike previous years when most of the lithium battery sessions were crammed into a single day, this year’s virtual format gives you a full week of updates, insights and controversial opinions about everyone’s favorite Class 9 miscellaneous material.

(Remember, this year—instead of traveling to Chicago and crowding into a hotel—you can experience the Symposium at the new DG Exchange—the Dangerous Goods industry’s first digital community. The only downside is that you have to hold your own happy hour.)

We spoke with two of the many experts who’ll be featured during Lithium Battery Week about the issues they’ll be discussing. Here’s what they had to say.

(For the full Lithium Battery Week schedule, skip to the end of the post!)

Engagement and testing during virtual hazmat training

As a DG trainer, Geoff Leach, Director at The Dangerous Goods Office, Ltd., has more experience than most of us in working past the restrictions on in-person groups forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. He’ll discuss these challenges and solutions during a Tuesday session: Digital Delivery for Training for Lithium Battery Shippers and the Operator’s Perspective.

“There have been two major challenges,” he says. “First was the exam. We couldn’t simply send out paper exams, so we initially introduced one-to-one oral exams, but these were very time-consuming. So now, we’ve agreed upon a process with the regulator that involves sending exam papers in tamper-proof envelopes which we observe being opened on screen. Completed papers are observed being put in another tamper-proof envelope, which is then sent to us. All envelopes have a unique ID number we verify on camera.

“The second issue has been engagement with the student. It’s challenging to tell if someone’s really engaged with a thumbnail picture on screen. I’m happy to say that last week I did my first classroom course in many months.”

One question Leach frequently addresses during training is “difficulties in obtaining lithium battery test summaries. We stress in our courses that if you haven’t satisfied yourself that the proper tests have been done on your batteries or devices, you shouldn’t be shipping them.”

Importers’ responsibilities and overwhelmed agencies

Battery test summaries also came up while chatting with Dave Brennan, the Assistant Director of Cargo Safety & Standards for IATA. He will join the always-lively Lithium Battery Panel on Friday.

“One of the emerging issues this year relates to the movement of used lithium battery-powered equipment being shipped for refurbishing,” he says. “If someone buys a bunch of laptops and refurbishes them, the manufacturers may not know what was done to them, so they can no longer certify that their batteries were properly tested.”

Another current, ongoing concern is undeclared and substandard lithium battery shipments. Brennan says, “Regulators are looking into ways to put the responsibility on importers to make sure they only buy compliant equipment. That would put the rubbish manufacturers out of business.”

In addition, IATA has “developed a system where airlines can sign up and tell us about incidents where undeclared or mis-declared Dangerous Goods were found. We will share that information with participating airlines, and then it’s up to them to take whatever action they deem appropriate.”

The COVID-19 pandemic certainly isn’t making the supply chain safer. “There’s an element of government agencies being overwhelmed—they’re fighting fires on all sort of issues. Which is ironic, because with most of us locked down, e-commerce has been going gangbusters, so there’s maybe a bigger risk than when life was normal.”

Complete list of Lithium Battery Week sessions

Register for any of these 6 sessions here (all times Central U.S.)

Monday, September 14:

10:00—Undeclared Lithium Batteries in E-commerce, Mail and Cargo

Trevor Howard—Manager, Standards & Operational Safety, Emirates SkyCargo

3:00—Responses to the New Requirement for the Test Summary

Kevin Bryan—Senior Business Development Manager, CHEMTREC

George Kerchner—Executive Director at PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA)

Tuesday, September 15:

10:00—Digital Delivery for Training for Lithium Battery Shippers and the Operator’s Perspective

Geoff Leach—Director at The Dangerous Goods Office, Ltd.

Trevor Howard—Manager, Standards & Operational Safety, Emirates SkyCargo

Wednesday, September 16:

10:00—Lithium Battery Air Safety and Updates on SAE’s G27 Lithium Battery Packaging Standards

George Kerchner—Executive Director at PRBA-The Rechargeable Battery Association (PRBA)

Thursday, September 17:

10:00—Lithium Battery Fires, Emergency Response and Challenges with Packaging and Transporting

Nick Warner—Cofounder and Principal, Energy Storage Response Group

Friday, September 18:

10:00—Live Expert Panel Discussion!

  • George Kerchner (PRBA)
  • Trevor Howard (Emirates SkyCargo)
  • Nick Warner (Energy Storage Response Group)
  • Geoff Leach (The Dangerous Goods Office, Ltd.)
  • Kevin Bryan (CHEMTREC)
  • Dave Brennan (IATA)
  • Michael Givens (FAA)

If you manufacture, ship, forward or receive any lithium batteries—or train people who do—you’ll want to catch every Lithium Battery Week session. Register today!

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