New safety standards relating to button batteries take effect in June and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is urging businesses to ensure they comply.
Businesses, including manufacturers, who supply button batteries should ensure packaging is child-resistant, and carry warning labels and emergency contact information should a battery be accidentally ingested by a child.
The standards were first introduced in December 2020 and businesses have been given an 18-month leeway to transition to the new regulations. Many suppliers have since recalled their button batteries from the market.
Button batteries are found in a large number of common household items such as watches, toys, remote controls, digital kitchen scales, thermometers and others. If swallowed they can cause serious harm to children. The batteries can burn through tissue when in contact with bodily fluids and lead to catastrophic bleeding.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said the Australian rules are the world’s first mandatory standards for button batteries and mark an important step in helping to prevent injuries to children.
“Once the standards become mandatory, ACCC will focus on enforcement action. As soon as you have finished using a button battery, put sticky tape around both sides of the battery and dispose of it immediately in an outside bin, out of reach of children, or recycle safely,” she said.
In Australia, three children have died so far and 44 have been severely injured from ingesting or inserting button batteries.