Deadline Draws Near for New Button Battery Laws

Canberra, ACT

A deadline is looming for new safety regulations covering products that use button batteries, with Bicycle Industries Australia (BIA) liaising with affected businesses to help ensure they comply with the mandatory regulations.

Compliance with the updated safety standard will be mandatory from 21 June, 18 months after they were announced.

Key elements of the standard include:

  • secure battery compartments for consumer goods that contain button batteries, where the batteries are intended to be replaced, to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries
  • compliance testing of consumer goods that contain button batteries, whether or not the batteries are intended to be replaced, to demonstrate the battery is secure and cannot be easily released
  • child resistant packaging for button batteries, based on their risk profile, to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries
  • warnings and information to alert consumers that a button battery is included with the product

BIA general manager Peter Bourke said button batteries were commonly found in bicycle computers and lights but were also included in products such as helmets.

The Federal Minister for Housing and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar announced the Mandatory Button Standard in late 2020, saying three children had died from injuries sustained as a result of swallowing a button battery.

Between December 2017 and December 2020, another 44 young children had suffered severe injuries following the ingestion or insertion of button batteries, with some sustaining lifelong injuries.

A statement from Product Safety Australia says coin-sized button batteries can lodge in a child’s oesophagus if swallowed.

“An electrical current is immediately triggered by saliva, which causes a chemical reaction that can cause severe burns to the child’s oesophagus and internal organs such as vital arteries, lungs, heart, larynx and spine. Serious injury can occur in as little as two hours and the results can be fatal,” according to the statement.

“Once burning begins, damage can continue even after the battery is removed from the body. Repairing the damage can be painful and may require multiple surgeries over many years.”

Further information about the new standard is available on the Product Safety Australia website.

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