Battery fires a serious and growing health and safety issue

The grounding earlier this month of the entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners because of battery fires has focused attention on this developing risk.

Writing in his blog last week barrister Jeremy Barnett, who specialises in product safety and regulatory issues, said the increasing development of battery technology, while helping to drive existing and renewable business models, is also a cause for concern in the wake of a number of serious health and safety incidents around the world.

As well as the Boeing 787 fires this month – one of which occurred on an All Nippon Airways flight over Japan, forcing an emergency landing, and the other aboard a Japan Airlines 787 at Boston’s Logan International Airport – a fire in the battery back-up system at a wind farm in Hawaii in April last year, and an incident involving a sodium-sulphur battery at a Mitsubishi plant near Tokyo have highlighted the risk.