Button/Coin Batteries Safety Standards

Button/Coin Batteries Safety Standards

This article was updated in August 2022 to announce the fact that new legislation was in force for the use of button or coin batteries.

In Australia, three children have died, and at least one child a month is seriously injured after swallowing or inserting a button/coin battery.

These tragedies forced the government to act, and in December 2020, the Australian Government developed mandatory safety and information standards for button batteries and consumer goods containing them.

hearing aid button battery warning

Sample of the warning that must be included with hearing aids.

Under the mandatory safety and information standards, products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from gaining access to the batteries. Manufacturers must undertake compliance testing, supply batteries in child-resistant packaging, and place additional warnings and emergency advice on packaging and instructions.

While hearing aids are exempted from these safety standards (although they must comply with the required warning standards), the packaging hearing aid batteries come in is not exempt and must meet the following standards:

  • Packaging must be child-resistant for button/ coin batteries of lithium chemistry of all sizes and button/coin batteries of a chemistry other than lithium with a diameter of 16 mm or above.
  • Compliance testing must demonstrate child-resistant packaging requirements have been met.
  • Where multiple button/coin batteries are supplied, blister packaging must be designed to release only one battery at a time.
  • Any spare button/coin batteries that are supplied with a consumer good, where the battery is not pre-installed in a secure battery compartment, must be enclosed in child-resistant packaging.

Standards now enacted

With the laws becoming mandatory on 22 June, the ACCC is now urging businesses that supply button batteries, or products that are powered by them, to ensure they are complying with the new button battery safety standards. The ACCC is also calling on consumers to check for unsafe button battery products in their homes.

In addition, in late August 2022, the Queensland Government announced they would be monitoring and ensuring compliance with the new laws through a targeted operation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The operation will target dangerous products and bring them under the spotlight as part of a new compliance crackdown to better protect consumers.

The ACCC has developed A Guide for Business on the Application of Mandatory Standards. The purpose of this guide is to assist suppliers in understanding the requirements for secure battery compartments, child-resistant packaging, and warnings and information. The ACCC has also developed a fact sheet that summarises the requirements of the new standards. You can download pdf copies here…

What to do if a battery is ingested or inserted

When ingested or inserted, button batteries can cause serious injury within two hours or death within days. When lodged in the body and in contact with bodily fluid, button batteries can burn through tissue and cause catastrophic bleeding.

Symptoms may include gagging or choking, drooling, chest pain (grunting), coughing or noisy breathing, food refusal, black or red bowel motions, nose bleeds, spitting blood or blood-stained saliva, unexplained vomiting, fever, abdominal pain or general discomfort.

Children are often unable to effectively communicate that they have swallowed or inserted a button battery and may have no symptoms. If you suspect a child has swallowed or inserted a button battery, you should ask for an x-ray from a hospital emergency department to make sure.

If you think a child has swallowed or inserted a button battery, contact the 24/7 Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for fast, expert advice. Prompt action is critical, do not wait for symptoms to develop.

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