Retailers to comply with new battery laws or face penalties

Businesses which supply button batteries or products powered by them must now comply with mandatory button battery safety and information standards.

Delia Rickard, Deputy Chair at the ACCC, said the world-first standards are a critical step in helping prevent potentially life-threatening injuries to children.

“Tragically, three children have died and one child a month is seriously injured from swallowing or ingesting button batteries.”

In order avoid serious penalties, businesses must ensure the following:

  • Products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children accessing the batteries
  • Button batteries must be supplied in child-resistant packaging
  • Products and batteries must have additional warnings and emergency advice on the batteries, packaging, and instructions
  • Suppliers must also ensure products have been compliance tested.

The ACCC has been working with the business community to over the past 18 months since the standards were first announced.

“We have been explaining the standards during this transition period to support businesses make the required changes to their products.

“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,” said Rickard.

The ACCC will be working with state and territory regulators to monitor the compliance and take enforcement action when necessary, with all levels of the supply chain legally required to comply with the mandatory standards.

For corporations that breach the standards, the maximum penalty of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) will be the greater of either $10,000,000, three times the benefit of the value received, or 10 per cent of annual turnover in the preceding 12 months where benefit cannot be calculated.

Rickard said the ACC is also urging consumers to check for unsafe button batteries in their home.

“Button batteries are found in a large number of common household items such as toys, remote controls, watches, digital kitchen scales and thermometers. If swallowed they can cause serious injuries to children. That’s why we encourage consumers to check the list of recalled products on the Product Safety website.”

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