South Korea is strengthening its battery laws to prevent another Note 7 style safety crisis
There’s nothing like a few dozen explosions, several hundred negative headlines and an embarrassing product recall to focus the mind on addressing safety concerns. The whole exploding Note 7 snafu has done the trick in Samsung’s native South Korea, where the government is looking to strengthen laws pertaining to lithium-ion battery-safety requirements given what happened to the infamously flammable phablet.
South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on Monday that it would be strengthening safety requirements and conducting regular inspections. Devices using lithium-ion batteries will be subject to more regular safety tests, too, and recall requirements will be widened to expand the range of defects that manufacturers are required to report to the government. Legal changes will also allow the government to issue warnings directly to consumers, even if products have not been subject to an official recall.
“We ask that the industry shares the view that making efforts to ensure safety is equally as critical as developing new products through technological innovation,” said vice minister Jeong Marn-ki in a statement.
Samsung certainly seems to be taking its failing seriously. Not only did it take out a full-page advert in various newspapers apologising for the recall, it has announced the results of its investigation into what was causing all the explosions in the first place. The inquiry revealed not one, but two failures relating to batteries: the first meant that the battery pouch simply didn’t have enough space to keep its electrodes straight, while the second batch had a defect due to an “abnormal welding process”. You can read more of the details here.
It’s not only Samsung that will be affected in the smartphone market – South Korea is also home to LG, and any non-phone company dealing in lithium-ion batteries will also be impacted by the measures. The long and short of it: the Note 7 debacle was a serious embarrassment to Samsung, and South Korea is taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again – as if the hit to the bottom line wasn’t incentive enough.