Battery fires put gig workers at particular risk – but safer alternatives are often out of reach
Twisted mountains of charred bikes, scooters, wheels, and battery casings. The distinct, acidic smell of burnt chemicals. And where delivery workers once stood in line chatting while waiting for repairs, now blackened ruins and a somber crowd of neighbors behind police tape. This was the scene – one that’s become horrifyingly common – after yet another deadly lithium battery fire in New York City.
Four people, including a 71-year-old man and 65-year-old woman, died in the inferno just after midnight on Tuesday – the latest victims of a growing problem that’s now claimed the lives of 13 people this year in the nation’s densest city, compared to six such deaths in all of 2022. The fires are caused by the cheap, dangerous electric batteries powering the two-wheeled devices that the city’s 65,000 delivery workers use to meet the demands of Silicon Valley gig platforms. And without decisive action, more carnage is guaranteed.