Occupational Health & Safety

New Postal Standards for Mailing Lithium Batteries

The U.S. Postal Service changed its standards Oct. 5 for mailing lithium and lithium-ion batteries, making them consistent with, but slightly more restrictive than, DOT and International Air Transportation Association regulations. All small consumer-type lithium batteries are mailable when properly packaged and labeled in the new standards, which took effect immediately.

The final rule sets a 5-pound maximum mailpiece weight limit when primary batteries are not packed with or installed in the devices they operate and an 11-pound mailpiece weight limit when batteries are packed with or installed in the device they operate. A commenter asked USPS not to restrict the mailing of primary lithium batteries to those only in their original retail packaging. The Postal Service agreed to change the final rule to read "in the originally sealed packaging" to allow packaging from sources other than retailers.

USPS requires a "Surface Mail Only" label in addition to DOT's "Primary Lithium Batteries--Forbidden for Transportation Aboard Passenger Aircraft" label and did not change this, despite a comment saying the USPS label is redundant. DOT's revised labeling requirements will be effective Jan. 1, 2008.

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