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ACCC Urges Adoption Of New Button Battery Code

ACCC Urges Adoption Of New Button Battery Code

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is urging businesses to adopt a new button battery code seeking to ensure that children cannot access the batteries.

The ACCC notes that the miniaturisation of electronic devices is seeing unsecured button batteries becoming increasingly accessible to young children, with button batteries found in a range of consumer goods.

Button batteries are found in goods including TV remote controls, cameras, watches, calculators, greeting cards, scales and torches, and are also increasingly used in children’s toys, novelty items and LED lights, the ACCC notes.

“Every week in Australia, 20 children are taken to emergency rooms after suspected exposure to button batteries,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard commented. “A Queensland coroner found that four-year-old Summer Steer died in 2013 as a result of swallowing a button battery and a Victorian coroner is examining the death of another young child.

“Children under the age of five are at the greatest risk. If they get their hands on one of the many products in the home that contain button batteries, they can get the batteries out unless the compartments containing the batteries are secured.

“Once loose, children can easily mistake the batteries for lollies. This new code is an important step towards ensuring children cannot access the batteries, thereby reducing the risk that they will swallow them.”

The Industry Code for Consumer Goods that Contain Button Batteries has been developed by a range of businesses with ACCC and state regulators support, with Officeworks having led its development with help from importers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, industry associations, testing and standards and regulatory affairs businesses.

“We’re pleased that this code is being led by business, it is an important initiative,” Rickard stated. “The ACCC is always warning people about the very real dangers button batteries present to young children, but we won’t be able to bring down the number of injuries unless business really starts taking action to ensure their products are safe.

“By selecting and designing consumer goods that comply with the industry code, retailers, importers and manufacturers can help to make button battery safety a fundamental design consideration across all consumer product categories. In doing so, there is no doubt that serious injuries will be prevented and lives will be saved.”

Among a number of safety mechanisms, the code stipulates a design that means consumer goods are manufactured such that the batteries are not accessible to young children, and a battery compartment (or other enclosure) secured (preferably with a captive screw, a bolt or mechanism) such that it requires a tool to gain access to the batteries, or a battery compartment requiring two or more independent and simultaneous actions to remove its cover.

It also encourages retailers to consider whether they sell goods containing coin-sized lithium button batteries at all and, if they do, not selling goods that don’t comply with the code’s safety requirements, and to consider the height at which they sell button batteries to ensure they can’t be accessed by young children.

The ACCC also advises that information must be available at point of sale (also online) indicating the product (or any included peripheral device) requires button batteries to operate and that these are hazardous to young children.

Further information on the code can be found here.

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