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Regular media reports of exploding mobiles or e-cigarettes – even the near-miss of a drone with a passenger plane – are becoming commonplace. Electrical Safety First’s recent industry seminar, on risk mitigation of lithium batteries and drones, was fully booked and enthusiastically received.

The seminar, which was held at Church House in Westminster, was a short but intense afternoon event. The first session - with a panel comprised of Dr. Jeremy Opperer, senior manager, Exponent International and Steve Beaman, UK general manager, LG Electronics - focused on lithium ion batteries

Moderated by Martyn Allen, technical director of Electrical Safety First, the discussion highlighted the design and operation of these batteries and considered how and why they can fail. Key points raised during the session included the importance of battery charger compatibility and issues around lithium batteries’ safe transportation. This is particularly the case when transporting them by air, where a catastrophic explosion could arise if a single cell were to catch fire and destabilise nearby batteries to create a thermal runaway.  A call for better quality data on incidents caused by lithium-Ion batteries gained overwhelming approval from the audience.

In the next and final session, the panellists - Ray Jeffries, regional engineering director, Intertek, and Andrew Gordon, managing director, CE Compliance Solutions - considered concerns around drones. Steve Curtler, product safety manager at Electrical Safety First, moderated the discussion, which reviewed the current legislative and standards framework on drones and the safety concerns arising.

No longer simply a military ‘tool’, drones are used in a range of professions, from surveying to cinematography, but are also an increasingly fashionable ‘gadget’ for consumers. 

“A number of significant issues were highlighted at this event”, explained Martyn Allen. “For example, the fact that the regulatory regime is at risk of being left behind by the speed of uptake and development of relatively new products – showing the need for robust due diligence, using existing conformity assessment processes as a guide, to demonstrate that such products are safe. And for those who couldn’t make it to the seminar, we’ll be providing an update on these issues at our annual product safety conference in November.”

 

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