If there is one thing most of us have in common, it is how often we come in contact with items that use lithium-ion batteries. Whether it’s a laptop computer, cellphone, camera, or even an electronic cigarette, we rely on lithium ion batteries for many different purposes. Unfortunately for some consumers, when lithium-ion batteries fail, they do in devastating fashion. When a lithium battery explodes, it can cause a fire that generates temperatures up to 1000° F and can cause severe 3rd degree burns as the video below demonstrates.
What can we do to prevent such a catastrophic event from occurring while we utilize these everyday items that use lithium-ion batteries? Below is a list of safety tips when using items with lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium Battery Safety Tips
Only use the charger that came with your device. If you need to buy a new one, make sure the replacement is recommended for the use of your device by the manufacturer. Just because a charger fits in your device doesn’t mean that it is safe to use.
Do not overcharge your device. It is recommended that once your device is fully charged that you should unplug it.
Keep your device out of extremely high or low temperature locations. Do not place the battery in direct sunshine, or store the battery inside cars in significant hot or cold weather.
Do not expose the battery to water or allow the battery to get wet.
Do not use your device if you notice any damage to the battery after dropping it. If you suspect damage to the battery, take your device to the service center for inspection.
Do not carry or store the batteries together with necklaces, hairpins, or other metal objects.
Do not disassemble or modify the battery in any way. Modifying your electronic significantly increases the risk of explosion
Only transport your items with lithium-ion batteries in a containers that are specially designed and follow D.O.T guidelines.
As always, should you have any questions regarding lithium-ion batteries, please contact ICC Compliance Center at 1.888.442.9628 (USA) or 1.888.977.4834 (Canada).
Unfortunately accidents seem to happen at the most inconvenient times. Whether you fall, crash, slip, or spill, it is often the aftermath that defines who we are. After all, there is no use crying over spilled milk. However if you spill hazardous goods, the aftermath can be a bit more complicated.
It is important when hazardous materials are spilled that it is addressed in a way that prevents any further damage to the environment or health of the community. But when is it necessary to report a hazardous spill to the proper authority? The Federal Government has established Reportable Quantities (RQ) for instances when hazardous substances are released in the environment. If a hazardous substances released in the environment in an amount that is equal or exceeds its RQ, it is required that it is reported to the federal authorities. A list of Reportable Quantities san be found in the latest 49 CFR.
Chemical Spill Guidelines
Specific guidelines are in place if hazardous materials are spilled during transportation. Whether you are loading, driving, unloading, or storing hazardous materials, you are required to adhere to the same guidelines. There are times when hazardous goods are transferred from one carrier to another. According to the D.O.T, whenever material is being transferred from one carrier to another, the upstream carrier remains responsible until the material is fully in the possession of the downstream carrier, no matter who is unloading the material.
Once the material has been delivered to the final intended consignee and the goods are no longer in transit, the final consignee becomes responsible for filing the report for spills that occur during the unloading process. If during the transportation of hazardous goods a spill takes place that meets or exceeds the reportable quantity (RQ), immediately contact the National Response Center (NRC).
A little less than a month ago a small town near Kansas City, Kansas got a nasty surprise. According to local news reports a chemical spill at MGP Ingredients in Atchison caused quite stir around 8:00 in the morning.
The Kansas City Star reported the spill resulted in a mixing of Sodium Hypochlorite and Sulfuric Acid. The reaction of the two chemicals created a thick fog that covered much of downtown and areas north and west of there. Several areas were told to evacuate while others were told to “shelter in place” with doors and windows shut. Click here to view a video taken by drone of the chemical plume. By 11:00 am officials reported the spill under control and people were allowed back into their homes and business. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent personnel to assist in the investigation.
Thanks to a good communication between MPG Ingredients, the City of Atchison and the local Fire/Emergency crews there were no serious injuries reported. Those caught in the fog, roughly 34 townspeople, had respiratory issues including coughing and difficulty breathing. At the time the article was written, there was no word on the number of affected MGP employees.
The key take away from this story is the communication element. It took less than 3 hours for this spill to be handled and for folks to be safely back at home, school or work. If MGP Ingredients had not reported the spill promptly, then the number of injuries would be higher. If local officials had not responded as quickly as they did by using the radio and social media, then the number of injuries would be much higher. If the local fire crew had not known what was needed to help the fog dissipate, then the number of injuries would be much higher.
There are always those that complain about updating hazard communication plans, workplace labels, safety data sheets, and evacuation plans. For those my response is simple. Here is the reason we do this. Here is why they are needed. Given the scope of the cloud and the area it covered, consider how many people were at risk. Had things been handled differently a much worse outcome is a definite.
As always, ICC Compliance Center is here to help you with all of your regulatory needs. For more information on our supplies and services visit our website: http://www.thecompliancecenter.com.
December means festivity and cheer for many. Many offices, including ours, enjoy bringing the festivities to work by decorating our offices, cubicles, and other office areas.
Safety is always important, festive occasions included. Safety+Health suggest the following to help prevent injuries while celebrating on the job. (Safety+Health Magazine)
Don’t stand on a chair to hang decorations. Use a stepladder, and make sure to read and follow the instructions and warnings on the label. And never hang decorations from fire sprinklers – they can prevent the sprinklers from operating properly. OSHA regulations state that stacked materials should never be closer than 18 inches below fire sprinklers.
Planning to string decorative lights or other electrical items in your workspace? The Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit organization, states that workers should:
Be sure that all electrical items are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing lab.
Inspect all lights, decoration and extension cords for damage before using.
Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices – they can overheat and cause a fire.
Never try to make a three-prong plug fit into a two-prong outlet.
Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving.
ICC Compliance Center offers a variety of safety courses to train employees on the hazards in the workplace. Visit our website and view our safety courses for more information
From our ICC family to yours, have a safe and happy holiday season.
Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal-it’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated. In cars without ABS, use “threshold” breaking, keeping your heel on the floorboard and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.
ICC Compliance Center cares about our employees and customers. Stay safe this winter season.
This weekend, my husband and I decided it was time to do some clean up and sell some things on e-Bay. We did the usual photo and description, and posted a few odd items. When we came to the last item, a PS3 controller, my husband stopped and said, “I am going to have to ship this as dangerous goods.”
It got me thinking, how many people would know that? I wonder how many lithium batteries are mailed or shipped by average people, never thinking that they are doing something wrong and potentially very dangerous. Even scarier, is the thought that my family could be on that same plane.
As the holiday season approaches, people everywhere will be sending gifts to loved ones around the world. What many people still do not realize, is that innocent gifts like game controllers, lap-top computers, cell phones, and tablets are dangerous goods.
The definition of “dangerous goods” varies slightly from regulation to regulation, but basics means articles or materials capable of posing significant risk to people, health, property, or the environment when transported. Examples include: perfumes, paints, aerosol cans, and anything with a lithium battery including power tools, computers, and cameras.
Dangerous goods need to be packaged and labeled in accordance with the regulations. You also need to be a trained person to ship them.
Before you wrap that gift, contact the post office or the shipping company and ask them if it is considered dangerous goods. If it is, the best solution might be to seek a local packaging and crating company to assist. ICC Compliance Center has a list of “Repackers” around the USA and Canada that can be found here: http://www.thecompliancecenter.com/partners/.
Since not everyone is privileged enough to be in the dangerous goods industry, as dangerous goods professionals, we need to do our part in to educate and protect others, so all families can have a safe holiday season. Help me educate others by sharing this on your social media pages.
Thanksgiving – that time of year when everyone prepares to burst their waistbands. It is a time for family and friends to get together and enjoy some wonderful food and fellowship. It is also the “leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment,” according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This day is followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve for number of fires in the home due to cooking. While I could find no statistics to show the number of injuries actually increase on this holiday, the fact is the day is full of instances where personal safety is at risk.
No one wants to take a trip to the emergency room over the holiday so make preparations now. Have a plan in mind to deal with everything that goes into the day.
To stay safe, the NFPA recommends the following safety tips:
Stay in the kitchen when you are cooking on the stovetop so you can keep an eye on the food.
Stay in the home when cooking your turkey and check on it frequently.
Keep children away from the stove. The stove will be hot and kids should stay 3 feet away.
Make sure kids stay away from hot food and liquids. The steam or splash from vegetables, gravy or coffee could cause serious burns.
Keep the floor clear so you don’t trip over kids, toys, pocketbooks or bags.
Keep knives out of the reach of children.
Be sure electric cords from an electric knife, coffee maker, plate warmer or mixer are not dangling off the counter within easy reach of a child.
Keep matches and utility lighters out of the reach of children — up high in a locked cabinet.
Never leave children alone in room with a lit candle.
Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Test them by pushing the test button.
The Red Cross also has a list of cooking safety tips. Many of them are listed above, but here are some additional ones.
Additional Safety Tips
Use a timer as a reminder that the stove or oven is on.
Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains – away from the stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
Everyone deserves to be happy and safe over the holiday. Do your part to make that happen. From ICC Compliance Center’s family to yours, I wish you a “Happy Thanksgiving”.
We have all had this experience: We are driving in our car on a long stretch of highway or a small suburban road and it happens.
We notice a flashing light in our rear view mirrors and we are pulled over by a friendly neighborhood member of law enforcement.
As you go into a brief moment of anger and confusion, you realize most likely this is going to result in a hit to your pocketbook. As the old saying goes, “You do the crime, you do the time.” In this case it is in the form of a check or money order. Following the regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods is certainly no exception. The world’s largest internet-based retailer is finding this out. Recently, Amazon has been hit with a $78,000 fine by the FAA for violating its Hazardous Materials Regulations.
When a package containing a highly flammable liquid began leaking en route to its destination, it was found to have no markings or labels and was also missing required paperwork. This incident is just one of numerous shipping violations Amazon has had within the last several years, totaling approximately $872,000 in fines.
Penalties Have Become More Severe
Since the ValueJet Disaster in 1996, The FAA has taken a far more aggressive approach in the regulations of dangerous goods resulting in substantial fines for offenders. The FAA can impose up to $75,000 in civil penalties for each violation of hazardous-materials regulations and up to $175,000 for severe injury, illness, death or property damage. Clearly violations of hazardous material regulations can leave your company, whether it’s large or small, at a risk to substantial fines. The best way to reduce this risk is to get your company thoroughly trained in shipping hazardous materials by a reputable company.
For training and other information on how ICC can help you remain in compliance with dangerous goods regulations call us at 888.442.9628 (USA) or 888.977.4834 (Canada).
Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing, industry has been aware of how criminals may try to obtain hazardous chemicals to create their own improvised weapons. Nowadays, U.S. and Canadian transportation regulations address how to protect chemicals in transport and prevent theft or tampering. Most industrial manufacturing and storage facilities have already implemented security systems and verification procedures for large customers.
But there’s a gaping hole in the system through which criminals can still get their hands on the ingredients they need. Many consumer products openly available in retail stores can be used as easily as industrial supplies to create bombs and poisons, or to be used in the dangerous production of illicit drugs. These purchases are often hard to track, because of the relative anonymity of consumer purchases.
The Chemical Countermeasures Unit (CCU) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is promoting a video on how to recognize suspicious sales of chemicals. The video, titled Suspicious Sales, dramatizes an explosion in an apartment building and the subsequent investigation, done in Law and Order style. Two detectives track down the purchases used to create the bomb based on standard commercial receipts found at the scene of the explosion (our criminal, in this case, having blown himself up by accident in his own apartment).
The chemicals were purchased at a number of stores – a beauty supply store, a hardware store selling pool chemicals, and a gardening depot. In all of them, the staff noticed strange things about the customer, but were unsure what to do about the situation.
The video’s goal is to give retail employees the tools to identify suspicious customers. The creators realize that these purchases are not specifically illegal, but alert employees can help authorities prevent incidents or provide assistance in identifying criminals after an incident.
Employees should be alert to signs of a suspicious sale. These include:
The customer is unable to answer simple questions about the product’s intended use (or gives vague answers)
The customer shows unusual preoccupation with the product’s chemical composition (in the video, a sales associate describes the perpetrator’s hunt for pool chemicals containing one specific ingredient)
The customer is new or unknown
The customer is reluctant or refuses to show valid identification
The customer makes large cash purchases, or uses someone else’s credit card
There is an unusual ordering pattern, such as buying strange quantities (more hair chemicals than a salon would need, for example), out-of-season purchases (such as pool chemicals when most pools are closed) or using a P.O. Box shipping address rather than a home address
So, if you’re a retail employee confronted with a suspicious purchase, what should you do?
After a suspicious encounter, make notes. Write down as much information as you have been able to gather, such as the person’s name, physical description, license plate number, and the details of the transaction
Notify your store manager, loss prevention officer or security manager
If the purchase raises serious concerns, report it to local or federal authorities so it can be investigated further
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have also published a series of flash cards for identifying suspicious customers and providing resources to retail staff. These three cards cover “Suspicious Behavior Awareness,” “Hazardous Chemical Awareness”, and “Peroxide Product Awareness.” They’re available as a free download for printing at The Department of Homeland Security’s TRIPwire website.
It’s an unavoidable fact of modern life that we must, in the words of the Harry Potter character Mad-Eye Moody, practice “constant vigilance” against those who plan to use chemicals to hurt others. Salespersons, cashiers, sales assistants, and other employees of retail outlets can help just as people in industrial settings to ensure that hazardous chemicals are kept out of the hands of criminals. Employers must also do their part by establishing internal procedures for reporting suspicious activities, and encouraging staff to “trust their gut” about suspicious customers, as the video advises
To obtain a free DVD of this video, you can e-mail the FBI at email@example.com, with complete contact information (name, title, store name or organization, street address, and phone number.) Or you can view it on YouTube:
If you have questions about hazardous chemical security regulations and how they can affect your operations, please contact us here at ICC The Compliance Center at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-44834 (Canada).
If you love TV shows like “The Making of a Murderer” or “Forensics Files”, you’ll probably be intrigued by a book titled The Poisoner’s Handbook. But rather than serving as a guide to criminal mayhem, this book traces the growth of modern forensic science in the U.S., concentrating on the contributions of Dr. Charles Norris.
Norris was a visionary of his time who reformed the New York City Medical Examiner’s office from a political plum into a modern instrument for protecting the public. This meant protecting them not just from the occasional thug or greedy heir lurking with a bottle of rat poison, but against some of the largest industries of the time, who, in a combination of greed and ignorance, often poisoned their own employees and the public at large.
Author Deborah Blum deftly outlines her heroes and villains. Charles Norris came from a family of bankers (his grandfather had negotiated the first loan to the federal government to finance the Civil War), and often would resort to using his own money to keep his office running. His expertise in toxicology served him well in finding new ways to detect chemicals and prove their role in the deaths of the unfortunates who ended up in his morgue.
Playing Robin to Norris’s Bruce Wayne was Alexander Gettler, a forensic chemist from an immigrant family. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, the two shared a dedication to science and to justice, and were determined to ensure that the first would be always used in the service of the second.
Science, Justice, and Poison
The villains were more wide-ranging. Some were the typical murderers associated with today’s forensic science. Many were able to walk away from their crimes due to the crude science of the time. Mary Frances Creighton was acquitted in the arsenic poisoning of her brother and mother-in-law, only to be convicted and executed years later for killing another woman. But each defeat sent Norris and Gettler back to the laboratory to discover ever more effective techniques for identifying chemical poisons.
But the actions of individual criminals didn’t endanger New Yorkers as much as some of the ostensibly law-abiding corporate citizens. The medical examiners were called in to investigate an oil company whose employees had nicknamed one facility the “looney gas building”. As Blum describes it,
“[t]he men who worked there … had become a little odd—moody, short-tempered, unable to sleep. They’d started getting lost on the familiar plant grounds, sometimes had trouble remembering their friends. And then in September 1924 the workers started collapsing, going into convulsions, babbling deliriously.”
Norris’s investigation pinned the blame on a chemical manufactured in that facility—tetraethyl lead—and identified its neurotoxic properties. The chemical was temporarily banned in New York City, until lobbying efforts restored it to a perceived “safe” status. Tetraethyl lead remained a common component of gasoline until concerns about the spike in environmental lead from car exhaust led to its phasing out in the 1970s .
Another chapter covers the plight of the “Radium Girls“, who painted clocks and watches with luminous paint, unaware that the appealing glow came from deadly radium. Taught to use their lips to put a point on their brushes, the workers, mostly teenagers and young women, soon suffered from the horrific effects of radiation poisoning. Norris and Gettler proved that the very bones of the victims had become radioactive.
Consumer Safety Regulations
The book gives a terrifying look at what a world without workplace or consumer safety regulations is like. By 1926, drunken drivers were already a menace (automobile accidents being the biggest killers in New York City that year), but elevators in high buildings were becoming death traps, taking 87 lives—most simply because no one thought to put up barriers and warning signs in front of empty elevator shafts. Deadly carbon monoxide came not only from the exhausts of the newfangled automobiles, but was piped directly into many homes as “illuminating gas,” and killed many from causes as simple as a faulty fitting. Another deadly gas, hydrogen cyanide, was used as a fumigant against rats and insects, with scant attention to its effects on humans nearby. Toxic chemicals such as arsenic could be easily purchased and used by members of the public who might or might not have any idea how to handle them safely.
But regulation could bring more danger to the public. Blum examines how Prohibition, designed to save people from the dangers of alcoholism, was killing more than unregulated alcohol ever had. Contaminated drink—caused by bad distilling in homemade stills, deliberate adulteration by bootleggers to increase their profits, or even by government who thought that “denaturing” illegal alcohol by pouring in toxic chemicals would keep people from drinking it—lived up to its nickname of “rotgut” in sometimes horrific fashion. The last part of the book shows, ironically, how counter-productive badly-conceived regulations can be.
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York is a primer on criminology and safety, a glimpse into the fascinating world of 1920s New York City, and a morality play about the struggles of two men determined to protect the public from toxic monsters loosed upon them by apathy, greed and politics. In an era where regulations are seen by some as not worth their economic impact, the lesson of this book is that we can’t afford to avoid such a fight.
Questions about chemical safety in the workplace? Contact ICC Compliance Center’s regulatory department here at 1-888-442-9628 (USA) or 1-888-977-44834 (Canada).