US safety agency wants improved safety standards for batteries

CPSC praised Samsung’s recall program in the U.S.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday that industry needs to learn from the Galaxy Note7 experience and put more safeguards in place during the design and manufacturing stages of lithium-ion batteries.

CPSC said Samsung Electronics “has been accountable in taking steps to drive up the recall response rate and keeps pushing.” Samsung and the agency are working with the wireless industry, battery makers and electrical engineers to review voluntary standards for lithium-ion batteries in smartphones, said agency chairman Elliot Kaye in a statement.

Samsung and external experts such as Exponent and Underwriters Laboratories will also share details from the investigation, she added.

Samsung on Monday blamed faulty batteries supplied by two manufacturers as the likely cause for the overheating and even explosions of the Note7, leading to a costly recall of about 3 million phones.

The CPSC said a 97 percent recovery rate of the devices from consumers had been achieved in the U.S. But the concern of the agency going forward is on the long-term safety of batteries to avoid a recurrence of the problem.

Consumers should “never have to worry that a battery-powered device might put them, their family or their property at risk,” the agency said. It called for the industry “to modernize and improve the safety standards for lithium-ion batteries in consumer electronics and also stay ahead of new power sources that will inevitably come along and replace these.”

CPSC on Tuesday also called for the expansion of a recall of lithium-ion batteries containing Panasonic cells that were used in HP notebook computers. About 101,000 batteries were involved in the recall, which included 41,000 batteries previously recalled in June 2016.

The CPSC’s operating plan for 2017 now includes a project for its technical staff to assess the state of high-density battery technology, marketplace innovations, gaps in safety standards, and research and regulatory activities in other countries, the agency said.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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