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 also be displayed on the batteries, packaging and instructions.
The standards set out the minimum requirements such as performance, design, construction, finish, and packaging or labelling that products must meet before they can be supplied in Australia.
The changes were announced about 18 months ago.
ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said these world-first standards would help prevent potentially life-threatening injuries to children.
Three children had died and one child a month was seriously injured from swallowing or ingesting button batteries, she said.
“Inspectors will be out looking for unsafe products both 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.
The ACCC is urging 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 just two hours or even death.
“The compartment holding the button battery needs to 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 at your nearest bcycle 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.