Businesses across the country have been put on notice, with mandatory button battery laws coming into effect today.
The new laws will require businesses that supply the button batteries, or products powered by them, to comply or face serious penalties.
Under the new mandatory safety and information standards, products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from accessing them.
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Suppliers must also ensure products have been compliance tested and place additional warnings and emergency advice on the batteries, packaging and instructions.
“These world-first standards are a critical step in helping prevent potentially life-threatening injuries to children,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.
“Tragically, three children have died and one child a month is seriously injured from swallowing or ingesting button batteries.”
The standards will be enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, with breaches attracting fines of up to $500,000 for individuals and $10 million for corporations.
“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.”
The ACCC has been working with the business community over the past 18-months since the standards were announced, to ensure they understand the new laws.
“We have been explaining the standards during this transition period to support businesses make the required changes to their products,” Ms Rickard said.
“Already, businesses have recalled a number of different products – everything from novelty light-up toys, to children’s clothing, remote controls for smoke alarms and ceiling fans to even a yoghurt that had a light-up lid”.
The ACCC is also urging consumers to check for unsafe button batteries in their homes.
“Button batteries are found in a large number of common household items such as toys, remote controls, watches, digital kitchen scales and thermometers,” Ms Rickard said.
“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.
“If swallowed, a button battery can get stuck in the child’s throat and cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue, causing death or serious injury within a short timeframe.”