30 March 2019

Coalition issuing button battery safety alert


The Morrison Government has today issued a safety warning notice to the public regarding risks associated with button batteries.

Button batteries, also known as coin cell batteries, are flat, round, single cell batteries, used in a broad range of personal and household products such as children's toys, hearing aids, watches, remote controls, digital thermometers and bathroom scales.

Two children have died from swallowing a button battery in Australia. It is estimated that about 20 children visit an Australian emergency department each week due to suspected ingestion of a button battery. Button batteries present a huge risk to children because they are small and if swallowed can get stuck in a child's throat triggering a chemical reaction that can burn through tissue and cause catastrophic bleeding. In just two hours, a child can suffer a serious injury and the results can be tragic resulting in lifelong injury or even death.

The safety warning notice includes urgent advice to protect the community;

  1. Only purchase button batteries that come in child-resistant packaging.
  2. If you are buying button battery powered devices, look for devices where the battery compartment requires a tool or dual simultaneous movement to open.
  3. Keep products with button batteries out of sight and out of reach of small children.
  4. Examine devices and make sure a child cannot gain access to the button batteries inside.
  5. Dispose of used button batteries immediately. Flat batteries can still be dangerous.
  6. If you suspect a child has swallowed a button battery, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 and you will be directed to the nearest hospital or emergency service that can manage the injury.

In March 2019, the ACCC identified button battery safety as a continuing focus and one of its Product safety priorities as it was in 2018.

The ACCC is currently conducting an evaluation of a National Strategy to determine if self-regulation through adoption of an Industry Code is influencing the marketplace to supply safer button battery products, and if not, to identify areas for targeted regulatory intervention.

Preliminary findings indicate there has been progress made by suppliers in applying the principles of the Industry Code, and many unsafe products have been recalled. However, the number of safety incidents reported indicates button battery exposures continue to present a serious health issue for Australian children.

Further information about the safety warning notice is available on the Product Safety Australia website.