U.S. manufacturers of devices that use lithium batteries may face stricter regulations this year because of safety concerns over the shipment of damaged and overheated batteries. According to some air safety experts, lithium batteries can combust while aboard cargo planes and have already caused a number of incidents, including plane crashes. Pilot unions are calling for tighter shipping controls that include protective packaging, flame-resistant containers and warning labels. But these regulations could substantially raise costs for tool companies and others that make or use lithium batteries, according to the Rechargeable Battery Association, a trade group.
A rule change in January by the International Civil Aviation Organization has implemented new global safety standards for shipping lithium batteries. The U.S. Department of Transportation is now considering a proposal that could also affect domestic shipments. A 60-day comment period opened on Jan. 7.