South Korean policy forces smartphone makers to report battery fires after Samsung Note 7
Smartphone producers will have to advise the South Korean government of incidents where devices explode or catch fire as immediately as possible, according to new safety regulations expected to be announced in the country next week.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy is scheduled to make the announcement on February 6, according to an anonymous source of The Investor. The new safety regulations are being introduced in the wake of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 battery saga, with the aim of speeding up the response times of manufacturers reacting to the accidents.
"In the latest Galaxy Note 7 incident, it took 10 days for Samsung to report the first case to the government," said the unnamed ministry official. "At the time, there were no timeframe requirements in notifying the authorities. When the new rules come into effect, phone makers will also have to immediately launch an investigation - right after submission of the report - to prove if the fires or explosions were caused by flawed parts or external force."
It is believed the regulations will be implemented within a year, following ministerial hearings with industry experts and smartphone producers.
Safety standards of smartphones have also come under scrutiny by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is working with Samsung and other companies to update the voluntary standards used in lithium ion battery production.
The announcement of the safety regulations will allegedly be accompanied by the results of a South Korean government investigation into the Galaxy Note 7 series. Conducted with the state-run Korea Test Laboratory, it is expected the findings will concur with those of Samsung's own investigation.
Last month, Samsung revealed two separate flaws caused the fires, with the first being an issue with the design of the battery itself. After the batteries were replaced, a second issue surfaced in the manufacturing process, with an ultrasonic welding defect short circuiting the battery.
The ultimate cost to Samsung for the Note 7 battery recall is expected to exceed $5 billion, though this didn't stop the electronics giant from seeing an increase in operating profits drive the company's best fourth quarter performance in over three years.