Button Battery Requirements & Future Standards Development
‘Button batteries’ are flat, round single cell batteries that are used in a large range of consumer and household products including watches, remote controls, toys, calculators, LED torches, etc. Over 58 million button batteries are sold in the Australian market every year. Button batteries can cause serious harm when ingested and have resulted in two toddler deaths in Australia and hundreds of hospital presentations. In 2016 an industry Button Battery Code was published, requiring product suppliers to ensure battery compartment security (i.e. no access without the use of a tool or two simultaneous and different actions) and warnings in user instructions. In 2017, the Australian standard for luminaire safety (AS/NZS 60598.1:2017 Luminaires, Part 1: General requirements and tests) included requirements for button battery compartment security and user instruction warnings. Product suppliers are reminded to ensure that button batteries are not accessible (without the use of a tool) and that user instructions for products that contain button batteries include warnings regarding the dangers of button batteries. We also note that the ACCC recently published a button battery issues paper due to continuing incidents related to toddlers ingesting button batteries. The paper highlighted:
  • Around 20 toddlers per week are presenting to hospital after ingesting or suspected ingestion of a button battery.
  • The majority of unsafe products were already regulated toys with small parts restrictions (around 50% of unsafe products were from this market category).
  • The rest of unsafe products were mostly novelty items found in discount stores.
  • The most likely reason for a product to be unsafe is a lack of battery compartment security.
The ACCC will likely publish a further consultation paper on button batteries with the aim of implementing mandatory regulations for products containing button batteries. Also, Standards Australia will likely form a standards committee to develop a horizontal Australian Standard for button batteries. Lighting Council Australia has made the following points during consultations.
  • More enforcement of existing regulations and targeted awareness raising could and should occur now.
  • Products already covered by button battery standards requirements should be exempt from the requirements of any new Australian standard.
  • Horizontal international standard should be developed in parallel with the Australian Standard.
  • The additional marking of products and packaging should be agreed at an international level including internationally agreed symbols and markings.
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