Lithium-ion battery’s life cycle: safety risks and risk management at workplaces

The problem addressed

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are widely used in vehicle industry. The use of Li-ion batteries as an energy source of vehicles reduces harmful emissions compared to combustion engines enabling the use of such vehicles also indoors. Thus, the different applications utilizing Li-ion batteries are considered as part of sustainable development of energy storage systems.

A solid regulatory framework for the environmental aspects already exists but the occupational safety aspects of the production chain are less explicit. Still, handling of and operating with Li-ion batteries poses several occupational risks, especially related to work and chemical safety. Therefore, it would be highly beneficial to recognize the occupational safety risks in the overall value chain of Li-ion battery, and to provide suitable risk control methods.

Research questions

The research hypothesis proposes that by studying safety we can point the issues that need to
be enhanced in order to promote occupational safety and working environment.
Research questions (RQ) focus on occupational safety, exposure and life-cycle assessment
through Li-ion batteries’ value chain.
  • RQ1: Which are current practices throughout the value chain to determine the safety, sustainability and management measures of Li-ion batteries?
  • RQ2: Which are the impacts of a LI-ion battery identified by performing a life cycle assessment on an example case?
  • RQ3: What are critical occupational risks (including accidents) and how are they managed in Li-ion battery value chain?

Keywords: LCA

Scientific disciplines: chemistry/chemical engineering

Expected outputs

The results of the study are expected to include:
  • Identification of most significant occupational safety risks for the most relevant supply chains and batteries, and identification of key supply chains and materials, regarding flow of priority materials and their hazard.
  • Analysis of main hazards for human health during the production, utilization and end of life of Li-ion batteries, also in accidental events: occupational safety (mainly through Risk Assessment) and potential damage to human health and environment over the life cycle of batteries (mainly through Life Cycle Assessment).
  • Analysis of the main environmental impacts associated to emissions of hazardous materials, focusing on the exemplary case.
  • Providing practical risk control methods to develop and improve work environments and the safety and well-being at work.
  • Generating specific guidance on the occupational safety issues to be provided to the industry and other stakeholders.


Associated deliverables

The use of Li-ion batteries (LIBs) is increasing worldwide. Even though this has numerous benefits, LIBs also pose specific risks to workers’ safety and health, especially in terms of chemical safety. The objective of this study was to examine the occupational safety of the LIB value chain and to determine the good practices and aspects that need to be taken into account in the management of the safety risks related to LIBs. In addition, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was used as the tool for evaluating the environmental impacts throughout the value chain of the LIB selected for the case study. The assessment also considered the gaseous emissions occurring over the lifetime of the battery. The study methods consisted of literature reviews, document analysis and semi-structured interviews. The chemical hazards at all the stages of the value chain were classified and accidents occurring during the use and end-of-life phases were also considered. The classification was based on the EU Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) system (EU regulation No 1272/2008), and on the identification of gas emissions in accidents found in the LIB literature. We used these classifications and LCA results to design guidelines. The study looked at nine companies representing different phases of the LIB value chain, located in Finland and Spain, and their relevant stakeholders and authorities. The most critical risks in the value chain and risk management measures were elicited in the interviews. The safety management evaluation of the value chain was modelled on the information gathered from the interviews and from existing research. This safety management evaluation model provides criteria for a three-level approach to safety. The increasing amount of forklift trucks using LIBs as well as the variety of the age and size of LIBs in use are expected to increase the risks for safety. Companies manufacturing, using and handling LIBs place a great effort into preparedness and competence. More co-operation with fire and rescue authorities is highly recommended. As LIBs are becoming more common, it is increasingly important in risk assessment to pay attention to how they are transported, stored, handled and recharged.

Download deliverable

Presentation at SAF€RA's 2022 symposium
Symposium presentation Creative Commons Attribution published on 2022-08-23
T.3.1 Hazard assessment of materials
Task report CC BY published on 2023-02-08
T.3.3 Safety risk assessment
Task report CC BY published on 2023-02-08

Participating researchers

Pia Perttula (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland) — project coordinator

Arto Säämänen (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland)

Anna-Kaisa Viitanen (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland)

Tiina Santonen (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland)

Jarmo Vorne (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland)

Henriikka Kannisto (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH), Finland)

Isabel Rodríguez-Llopis (Fundación GAIKER, Spain)

Leire Barruetabeña (Fundación GAIKER, Spain)

Amaia García (Fundación GAIKER, Spain)

Funding organizations

OSALAN (Spain)

FIOH (Finland)

Information last updated on 2022-05-16.

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