The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to improve the safety of button batteries by introducing new safety regulations.
The decision was announced by Assistant Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, yesterday (Monday).
Under the new mandatory safety and information standards, products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries.
Must demonstrate batteries are secure
Manufacturers must also undertake compliance testing to demonstrate batteries are secure, they must supply higher-risk batteries in child-resistant packaging, and place additional warnings and emergency advice on packaging and instructions.
“The introduction of these standards is an important step in improving the safety of button batteries and helping prevent injury to children,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
Button batteries can be incredibly dangerous to young children, especially for children five years of age and younger.
If swallowed, a button battery can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue, causing death or serious injury. Insertion of a button battery into body orifices such as ears and noses can also lead to significant injuries.
One child a month is seriously injured
In Australia, one child a month is seriously injured after swallowing or inserting a button battery, with some of them sustaining serious, lifelong injuries. In Australia and globally, there is a growing record of injuries and deaths from button batteries.
“Australia has become the first country in the world to have a button battery safety standard that applies across all consumer product categories,” Rickard said.
“The standards will enable the ACCC to take strong action to ensure that businesses sell safe products. We encourage all businesses to transition to the new standards as quickly as possible.”
Businesses will have 18 months to comply
All businesses that supply button batteries, or products containing button batteries, in Australia must comply with the standards. Businesses will have 18 months to comply.
The ACCC recently launched the ‘Tiny batteries – big danger’ safety campaign which included a short video describing the dangers of button batteries and explaining the importance of parents and carers keeping them away from children.
The issue of button battery safety is complex because mandatory safety and information standards for consumer goods with button batteries apply to a vast range of products, most of which are manufactured overseas and imported into Australia.