Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY22 05 – Safe Disposal of Lithium Ion Batteries – Battery Explosion and Fire in ‘Biffa’ Waste Disposal Box

Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY22 05 – Safe Disposal of Lithium Ion Batteries – Battery Explosion and Fire in ‘Biffa’ Waste Disposal Box:

Overview, Background, Description:

A spent Lithium Ion battery was placed in a ‘Biffa’ Waste Safe Mini Box at an RMG site. Metal gas struts in the box appear to have contacted the exposed battery pack terminals causing it to short circuit which in turn led to the battery overheating, creating a run-away thermal reaction within the battery. This resulted in a localised flash fire and explosion with a projectile being released. The battery pack could have contained damaged Lithium Ion batteries. The incident lasted a matter of seconds to occur.

Issue: 

Lithium Ion batteries must not be placed in Waste Safe Mini Boxes (WSMs). Only alkaline batteries can be placed in WSMs.

Effect:

The battery explosion and small fire could have caused a major fire and the projectile (piece of the battery) could have hit someone causing major injury.

Key Message:

Lithium Ion batteries must not be placed in the Red ‘Biffa’ Waste Safe Mini Boxes (WSMs). Only Alkaline batteries can be placed in WSMs.

Ring European Recycling Platform (ERP) directly on 0845 6852424 to arrange for the disposal of Lithium Ion batteries. The National Service Centre (NSC) can provide guidance by phoning 0333 0050312.

Learning Points:

Mixing Lithium batteries with the other waste designed for WSM’s can cause a thermal reaction leading to a possible release of projectiles. Refer to the WSM content list before placing items in the box.

Key Activities:

  • Ensure that all relevant staff on site are informed that Lithium Ion batteries must not be placed in Waste Safe Mini Boxes (WSMs). Only alkaline batteries can be placed in WSMs.
  • Ring ERP directly on 0845 6852424 to arrange for the disposal of Lithium Ion batteries. The National Service Centre (NSC) can provide guidance by phoning 0333 0050312.

Attachment: 

  • RMG SHE Safety Flash FY22 05 – Safe Disposal of Lithium Ion Batteries – Battery Explosion and Fire in ‘Biffa’ Waste Disposal Box:

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

22LTB099 Royal Mail Group (SHE) Safety Flash FY22 05 – Safe Disposal of Lithium Ion Batteries

SHE Flash FY22 005 – Battery Fire in Waste

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