The United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that, as of May 16, it stopped accepting packages containing lithium batteries. No big deal, right? Not until you take your electronic noise-cancelling headset package to your local USPS facility and it’s rejected by the friendly clerk because the headset contains lithium batteries.
All right, fine! You decide to visit your local FedEx or UPS location. As of this writing, both of these carriers do accept international packages that contain lithium batteries, so your approach seems to have merit, but wait! Neither of these commercial carriers delivers to Air/Army Post Office (APO), Fleet Post Office (FPO) or Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) addresses overseas. So if you plan on mailing lithium-battery-powered electronic industrial hygiene testing equipment or blinking strobe lights to your favorite safety professional at a military base, it’s a no-go. You must use USPS.
That’s right; the only shipping option for APO, FPO or DPO locations is USPS. If you need to ship lithium-powered electronic devices to these locations, the devices must be shipped without the batteries in them. Everywhere else, you can ship the lithium-powered units via FedEx or UPS. The USPS has not changed its lithium battery shipping policy domestically. You can still mail that checklist-filled smart phone from New York to Los Angeles as fast as you can say, “We Deliver for You.”
Lithium batteries have been blamed for bringing down airplanes in the past. Their chemistry, reportedly, can be about as stable as Jello on the hood of an amusement park bumper car. Notwithstanding the lithium battery’s bi-polar personality, FedEx and UPS are up for the challenge in consideration of the serious dough that is now at stake with USPS’s latest position.
USPS states that they will re-evaluate their no-go lithium battery policy sometime in the near future, hinting that they might resume shipments under limited quantities.
Stay tuned. Until then, you may have to power down and power out.
J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CEO of Make My Day Strategies LLC, is also an international Fortune 100 EHS senior manager, entrepreneur, a patented inventor, engineer, certified safety professional, professional speaker, member of the Industry Advisory Council at Western New England University, an elected Board Member of the national Voluntary Protection Program Participants’ Association, author of the book Not Intuitively Obvious – Transition to the Professional Work Environment, and an overall great guy.