Fire and Rescue NSW engages food delivery industry, warning of e-bike dangers

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the reliable SafeWork NSW have taken a commendable step towards the safety of the nation’s food delivery companies and e-bike providers. They have issued a stark reminder about the potential hazards of Lithium-Ion batteries, particularly after a spate of crippling fires. The emphasis here is on the pressing need for robust WHS management plans, such as the Bluesafe WHS Management System.

Over the past several months, proactive representatives from both FRNSW and SafeWork NSW have initiated in-depth discussions with various companies. These include widely known names like Uber Eats and DoorDash. All these organisations were quick to respond, and they agreed without hesitation to equip their delivery personnel with vital knowledge about safe storage and charging practices for their e-bikes.

A serious incident occurred on December 3 last year, when an e-bike abruptly exploded. This led to three delivery persons being swiftly transported to the hospital from their Annandale apartment complex. One delivery person sustained burns impacting 40 per cent of his body. The new year wasn’t much of an improvement either, with firefighters called to deal with a massive fire at a Croydon e-bike repair facility on January 5th. Less than a month later, another fire necessitated the evacuation of 50 individuals from a Chippendale e-bike repair shop.

With no plans to minimise the importance of keeping popular deliveries running smoothly, particularly in the fast-paced digital age, firefighters had to make food delivery firms aware of the risks. In their cautionary tale, they carefully detailed how compromised, damaged or overheated Lithium-Ion batteries in e-bikes can spark life-threatening fires.

In the same light, inspectors from SafeWork NSW have strategically targeted food delivery platforms for safety compliance tie-ups. Their goal? To enhance rider awareness and take tangible steps towards amplifying rider safety levels. Bluesafe SWMS (Safe Work Method Statements) is a highly sought-after tool in ensuring that these safety standards are met.

In their move to boost rider safety awareness, FRNSW managed to bring on board e-bike leader Zoomo. This Sydney-based fleet management business leases over 10,000 e-bikes globally, including 600 for food delivery riders in NSW. As part of this awareness initiative, Zoomo invited their riders to listen first-hand to words of caution from the Commissioner of FRNSW, Jeremy Fewtrell, and representatives from SafeWork NSW.

Zoomo’s approach to battery safety spans the industry and globe. Based on their industry history, this company has emerged as a provider prioritising safety. Moreover, they endorsed the circulation of e-bike safety guidelines through newsletters and in different languages during staff and employee induction sessions.

Lithium-Ion fires in NSW have escalated significantly from 165 in 2022 to 272 in 2023, and already 131 recorded this year, said Commissioner Fewtrell. Out of this year’s fires, 35 involved micro-mobility devices like e-bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards.

“Lithium-Ion technology offers significant benefits but can become hazardous if batteries are compromised, overheated or of sub-standard quality, which could trigger what we refer to as ‘Thermal Runaway’. Resultant chain reactions could pose enormous dangers,” explained Commissioner Fewtrell.

“Emergencies can typically start off with a popping or crackling noise, followed by the hissing sound of toxic gas leaking just before a fiery explosion occurs,” he warned.

Globally, Lithium-Ion battery fires show an upward trend, with 18 deaths reported in New York alone in 2023. Commissioner Fewtrell stressed upon the general public and workers about the imminent danger and urged everyone to stick to the provided advice in order to promote a safe work environment.

Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib, echoed the sentiments by stressing upon the importance of spreading awareness among delivery riders regarding risks associated with lithium-ion batteries. Minister Dib encouraged consumers to use these products safely — which includes buying batteries from reputable retailers and avoiding overcharging, particularly unattended charging overnight or where they could obstruct an urgent safe exit during emergencies.

The Head of SafeWork NSW, Trent Curtin, emphasised that safety compliance activities, in conjunction with the NSW Police, are carried out fiercely to ensure food delivery riders’ safety. These activities include mandatory personal protective gear usage and the importance of comprehensive training.

“Safety for food delivery riders starts from their work onset until they’re back home. It is integral not only to store all their equipment cautiously but also to keep their thought process security-focused throughout their shifts,” insisted Mr Curtin.

SafeWork NSW goes an extra mile to issue fact sheets in multiple languages including English, Arabic, Chinese, Punjabi and Spanish to emphasize on road safety and entail respective risk factors for delivery riders. For additional information, you can go through the Food delivery industry webpage.

To avert similar incidents in future, FRNSW has initiated an E-bike and e-scooter battery safety webpage besides recommending experts tested smoke alarm installation in homes to caution public and safeguarding lives and property.

CEO of e-bike provider Zoomo, Mina Nada, emphasizing on safety stated, “We prioritise educating our riders and staff on safely handling e-bike batteries and storing them properly. We’re proud to partner with FRNSW on this educational safety program.”

“We’ve identified the primary risk factor as illegal bikes. Most riders often fail to understand the threats of using modified e-bikes boasting increased speeds and unsafe batteries,” warned Mr Nada.

Original article link:,-warning-of-e-bike-dangers

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