Are Lithium Batteries Considered Dangerous Goods & How Should They Be Labelled?

Date Posted:1 August 2021 

Are Lithium Batteries Considered Dangerous Goods & How Should They Be Labelled? main image Are Lithium Batteries Considered Dangerous Goods & How Should They Be Labelled? image

There are so many products that rely on lithium batteries for power in Australia and around the world these days, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras, power tools and medical equipment. So if you’re transporting or shipping products with lithium ion or lithium metal batteries, how do you do so safely and correctly?

The dangers that lithium batteries can pose

There is a very important reason you might be asked about whether you have any batteries in your checked baggage at the airport (Samsung Galaxy Note 7, anyone?) and when shipping battery-powered products in the mail. Lithium batteries can pose both a chemical and electrical hazard, and as such they’re classified as dangerous goods while in transport.

These batteries have a relatively high energy density, which means they can overheat or ignite if improperly packed or damaged during transit. In certain circumstances they can cause chemical burns, electrical shock, explosion and fires that can produce toxic fumes and may be difficult to extinguish. It’s for this reason that they’re classified under Class 9: "Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods" and require specific dangerous good labels.

How to ship and transport lithium batteries safely

Australia Post has limits on the strength, quality and condition of any lithium batteries sent via post, and does not ship lithium batteries by air. Many couriers will refuse to transport lithium batteries or have restrictions in place, as they are classed as dangerous goods.

When transporting or shipping lithium batteries within Australia, you’ll need to comply with the Australian Dangerous Goods Code of Practice (ADG) and the Act and Regulation governing the transportation of hazardous goods. When packing lithium battery products that aren’t attached to the equipment, the batteries must be completely enclosed in robust separate packaging to minimise contact with conductive materials which could trigger a short circuit. Similarly, items that include lithium batteries contained in equipment require terminals to be taped over with an insulating, non-conductive material.

Packages including lithium batteries will need to be labelled with an appropriate Class 9 shipping label as well as a UN number label marked with UN 3090, 3091, 3480 or 3481 as relevant:

  • UN3090 for standalone lithium metal batteries not being shipped with other products
    • UN3091 for lithium metal batteries contained in equipment
    • UN3480 for standalone lithium ion batteries not being shipped with other products
    • UN3481 for packages containing lithium-ion batteries either contained in or packed with equipment.

For everyone’s safety, it’s vitally important that you research and comply with the requirements when it comes to packing any lithium batteries in Australia and beyond.

For assistance ordering the dangerous goods shipping labels, synthetic barcode labels and dangerous goods handling labels for your items, you can get in touch with our Sydney-based team today.

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