Products that require button batteries must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from accessing them under new laws that start today.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned businesses that supply button batteries or products powered by them must comply with the new safety standards or face hefty penalties.
Under the new mandatory standards, button batteries must be supplied in child-resistant packaging, and suppliers must also ensure products have been compliance tested.
Additional warnings and emergency advice must be displayed on the batteries, packaging, and instructions.
The standards set out the minimum requirements, such as performance, design, construction, finish, and packaging or labeling, that products must meet before being supplied in Australia.
The changes were announced about 18 months ago.
Camera IconFrom today, products using button batteries must have secure battery compartments. Credit: News Limited
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said these world-first standards would help prevent potentially life-threatening injuries to children.
She said three children had died, and one child a month was seriously injured from swallowing or ingesting button batteries.
“Inspectors will be out looking for unsafe products online and in stores such as discount retailers, variety shops, major retailers, pharmacies, newsagents, and at large events,” Ms. Rickard said.
“Businesses are on notice that serious penalties may apply if we find unsafe or non-compliant products.”
Corporations that breach the Australian Consumer Law can face a maximum financial penalty of $10 million, and for individuals, $500,000.
Camera IconIf a parent suspects a child has swallowed a battery button; they should get an x-ray. Supplied Credit: Supplied
The ACCC urges consumers to check their homes for unsafe button batteries as they’re frequently found in common household items like toys, remote controls, watches, digital kitchen scales, and thermometers.
Ms. Rickard said it was vital to check the list of recalled products on the Product Safety website because the batteries could cause serious injuries to children if swallowed.
If swallowed, a button battery can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue, causing serious injury in two hours or even death.
“The compartment holding the button battery must be secure and child resistant. If it isn’t, parents or carers should stop using the product immediately and keep it out of reach of children.
“Keep new and used button batteries out of sight and out of reach of small children at all times.
“As soon as you have finished using a button battery, wrap sticky tape around the battery, put it in a glass container out of reach of children, and recycle it at your nearest bicycle drop-off point.”
Unsafe products can be reported through the Product Safety Australia website.
If you suspect a child has swallowed or inserted a button battery, contact the 24/7 Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for fast, expert advice and ask for an x-ray from a hospital emergency department to make sure.
Camera IconChildren that ingest button batteries can suffer from serious injury within two hours or death. Credit: News Regional Media