Mandatory improvement to button battery safety to save lives

The Morrison Government is delivering on its commitment to improve the safety of button batteries with the introduction of new mandatory safety and information standards to help protect Australian children.

In Australia three children have died from injuries sustained as a result of swallowing a button battery, and since December 2017, there have been at least 44 individual cases where young children have suffered severe injuries following the ingestion or insertion of button batteries.

This equates to one child sustaining a serious button battery injury every month, with some of them sustaining lifelong injuries.

As button batteries are used in a wide range and variety of products found in people’s homes a comprehensive and broad solution is required.

This is why the new mandatory safety and information standards will require:

  • secure battery compartments for consumer goods that contain button batteries, where the batteries are intended to be replaced, to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries;
  • compliance testing of consumer goods that contain button batteries, whether or not the batteries are intended to be replaced, to demonstrate the battery is secure and cannot be easily released;
  • child resistant packaging for button batteries, based on their risk profile, to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries; and
  • warnings and information to alert consumers that a button battery is included with the product.

No other country in the world has been able to design and deliver risk based mandatory regulation that applies to all consumer products containing button batteries.

Today’s announcement is also a timely reminder in the lead up to Christmas of the dangers of button batteries and to remind parents to be alert to any that may exist in children’s presents this year.

I commend the work of the ACCC who have shared the Morrison Government’s concern about the safety surrounding the use of button batteries and have moved swiftly to reach today’s outcome.

The ACCC has undertaken extensive consultation in developing these new standards including with industry, health professionals, consumer advocates, retailers, suppliers and government.

It is important to note that the majority of stakeholders who made submissions supported new mandatory safety and information standards.

A transition period of 18 months has been provided to allow industry to implement any manufacturing and design changes to products and packaging and undertake any testing necessary to ensure compliance with the new mandatory safety and information standards.

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