A growing number of exploding electronic devices powered by lithium-ion batteries have prompted calls for more government oversight, or at least a better system for more closely monitoring the batteries and their use.
In October, Elliot Kaye, Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) chairman, won full support from the bipartisan CPSC for a new initiative to review the battery industry – specifically, the lithium-ion battery segment. According to a National Public Radio story, the CPSC will work with other agencies and companies to compile a comprehensive review of the lithium-ion battery problem.
Armed with a broader understanding of the industry and the problem, Kaye hopes the initiative will uncover better standards, practices and designs to prevent hazards altogether – a goal praised by the National Law Review.
In addition to the increasing demands on lithium-ion batteries and their unstable and often volatile reaction under pressure, Kaye believes that competitive pressures within the battery industry also contribute to disastrous outcomes. Based on his years of experience, he says that ideal standards and systems “go out the window” when competition pushes manufacturers to their limits, and this must also be addressed.
For that reason, another key focus of the initiative is to determine what else is missing in terms of safety. The initiative directs the CPSC to identify “gaps in standards, international cooperation, enforcement, [or] something else.”
After stepping down as chairman next year, Kaye plans to assume a commissioner role and will spearhead the initiative. Based on the CPSC’s bipartisan support following the initial announcement, both Kaye and the initiative seem to have the support of the new administration.
If you would like more information about lithium-ion batteries, you can contact Will Sutton, a lawyer in Toxic Torts Section. He can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at William.Sutton@beasleyallen.com.