Australia – Regulatory Assessment of Button Battery Safety Published
Vol. 1143 | March 24, 2020
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has published their assessment of regulatory options as it relates to button battery safety. The 92-page summary is available for public access and is open for comment through 30 April 2020.
Highlighted in this document are statistics, intentions, tests and assessments, scientific and medical literature captioning the concerns and need for proactive legislation to protect Australian consumers from the potential hazards posed by button batteries.
The ACCC describes button batteries as flat and round, with diameters of up to 30mm+ and heights below 11mm. Found in all types of consumer and household goods, it is estimated that 69 million button batteries were sold to the Australian market in 2019 alone.
As injury and fatalities continue to climb, Australian injury statistics present ~3.5 people per 100,000 population visit the emergency department for button battery-related incidents. Most notably present in the statistics are children, in which Australia states two children tragically perished from injuries sustained after ingesting button batteries in 2013 and 2015.
The injuries sustained have been debated in public and scientific forums, however, are most commonly attributed to Lithium chemistry batteries, but can also occur from other battery chemistries such as Alkaline, Silver oxide, and Zinc air.
The ACCC is considering three options to proactively protect consumers from the dangers of button batteries, with Option 3 being the preferred option:
- Make a mandatory standard that includes requirements for secure battery compartments in consumer goods. This standard would include existing or heightened measures to incorporate mechanisms that prevent removal of the battery by children under foreseeable use.
- In addition to the above Option 1, all button batteries available for sale or supplied with consumer goods (where the battery is not pre-installed) to be supplied in child-resistant packaging.
- In addition to Options 1 and 2, includes warnings and information to be provided:
- On the packaging and instructions for all button batteries available for sale
- On the product, packaging, and instruction of consumer goods that use button batteries
- At the point of sale, and prior to purchase, that are sold online that use button batteries
- At the point of sale, and prior to purchase, for unpackaged consumer goods that use button batteries
The assessment continues, evaluating the in-market warnings, merits of each of the above Options, as well as potential impacts of success and costs.
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