Monday, 21 December 2020 16:57

Button battery safety regulations announced


Regulations have been introduced by the Commonwealth Government to reduce the risks that button and coin batteries present to young children.

Earlier this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission proposed mandatory standards for button battery safety, including secure battery compartments, child resistant packaging, and clear information and warning labels.

And as recently as October, the Commission launched a campaign warning parents and carers of the risks to children.

In Australia, one child a month is seriously injured after swallowing or inserting a button battery, with some of them sustaining serious, lifelong injuries, according to the ACCC.

Four mandatory standards applicable to button and coin cell batteries were announced today by Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar.

The standards require:

• Secure battery compartments that are resistant to being opened by young children
• The retention of batteries under "reasonably foreseeable" use or misuse
• Compliance testing
• Prominent warnings in instructions and packaging, or on stickers or swing tags for unpackaged products
• Child-resistant packaging for batteries
• Warnings (eg, 'keep out of reach of children') on battery packaging, and on batteries with diameters of 20mm or more

There are various exemptions to certain requirements for hearing aids, goods that are already on sale, goods that are only sold for professional use and that are not used where children are present, and certain types of item where the batteries are soldered in place.

Businesses have 18 months to comply with the requirements.

The ACCC welcomed the announcement.

"The introduction of these standards is an important step in improving the safety of button batteries and helping prevent injury to children," said ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard.

"Australia has become the first country in the world to have a button battery safety standard that applies across all consumer product categories," she added.

"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."

Image: Lead holder via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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