Following a series of deadly fires caused by lithium batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters, the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has published resources to help consumers purchase and use the devices safely.
The launch of the resources coincides with a coroner’s calls for tighter safety laws around e-bikes and e-scooters after the death of Mizanur Rahman in March. Rahman’s fourth-floor flat in Shadwell, east London, became engulfed in smoke when an e-bike that was being charged there burst into flames.
Assistant Coroner for Inner North London Adam Smith has written to OPSS citing concerns about e-bike batteries and calling for stronger safety regulation around the devices. In his report into Rahman’s death, he refers to evidence from the London Fire Brigade that in the past year alone, there have been nine deaths across the country that are believed to have been caused by faulty lithium-ion batteries.
The consumer awareness information published by OPSS focuses on the safe use and charging of e-bikes and e-scooters, including in conversion kits, and will run on social media as well as the gov.uk website.
Graham Russell, Chief Executive of OPSS said: “We are working across government and also with the fire service to fully understand why these fire incidents are taking place. As part of our safety study, we are reviewing all the information available to us in relation to fire incidents involving lithium batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters, including in conversion kits, to ensure the product safety issues are properly assessed and action is taken to protect users from harm. That’s why we’ve published this consumer information, to help consumers be safe through knowing how they should use and charge these type of batteries.”
Earlier this year, London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Charlie Pugsley, told the Journal of Trading Standards: “It’s incredibly concerning that we are continuing to see a rise in incidents involving e-bikes.
“When these batteries and chargers fail, they do so with ferocity and because the fires develop so rapidly the situation can quickly become incredibly serious. These items are often stored in communal areas and corridors, and can block people’s only means of escape.”
CTSI has previously urged businesses importing and selling e-scooters, e-bikes and conversion kits to ensure that the products fully comply with product safety laws. The Institute has also warned consumers to avoid buying the devices unless they are entirely confident that they have been properly tested and display a valid UKCA or CE mark.
Christine Heemskerk, CTSI Lead Officer for Product Safety, said: “Don’t buy online unless you’re really certain where a product is coming from. You need to be very sure that you’re using the right charger for the right battery. There should be a charger supplied with the device you’ve purchased.”
OPSS’s information resources, which are available in English and Welsh, can be viewed here.
Additional safety information about lithium-ion battery charging has been issued by FireEngland, which can be viewed here.