Lithium Batteries Controversy: Article or Mixture

According to the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin: BAuA), lithium batteries are articles in the sense of the REACH Regulation and therefore do not require classification according to the CLP Regulation. Furthermore, they do not require maintenance of safety data sheets. The BAuA thereby contradicts the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which considers lithium batteries mixtures and requires the corresponding actions.

The controversy was sparked by an inquiry to the OSHA by a U.S. firm, Labelmaster. The answer from OSHA clearly stated that lithium batteries can leak. In such cases, chemicals can appear in quantities that pose health dangers to people. Accordingly, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012) requires appropriate labeling on the packaging of such batteries and requires a safety data sheet.

However, the BAuA based its decision on the statements and definitions of the REACH Regulation (EG) No. 1907/2006, which considers batteries and rechargeable batteries as articles. Articles are defined there as objects “which receive through production a particular form, surface or shape, which affect mainly their function than their chemical configuration.”

The matter affects electronic non-consumables like accumulators and batteries.
For consumables however, other classification and labelling requirements exist in the United States. Thus, companies that manufacture batteries or market them in the EU or the United States should consider both approaches and take appropriate measures for full compliance in both markets. We would be pleased to advice you at sds@kft.de.

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