Button battery laws introduced after Aussie mum’s campaign

A Melbourne mother who fought to change national laws after her one-year-old daughter died of swallowing a button battery celebrates a huge victory.

Thanks to the tireless campaign of a heartbroken mother, new laws will be introduced on Wednesday to reduce the risk of button batteries to children.

National safety standards for the use of button batteries will come into effect on June 22, 18 months after the reform was first introduced by the previous coalition government.

The move comes after three Australian children have been killed and a further 44 injured in incidents involving button batteries, which are found in millions of consumer goods worldwide.

Under the new mandatory safety and information standards, products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from accessing them.

Manufacturers are required to perform conformity testing, provide batteries in child-resistant packaging, and place additional warnings and emergency advice on product packaging.

The standards will be enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with violations leading to fines of up to $10 million.

“These mandatory standards for button batteries in the world are an important step in helping to prevent injuries in children,” said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

The standards were introduced in December 2020 with an 18-month transition period to give companies time to prepare. During the transition period, the ACCC worked with industry to explain the required changes.

“We are pleased that some suppliers have acted early by issuing recalls to remove unsafe products containing button batteries from the market,” said Ms Rickard.

“Button batteries are found in many common household items such as toys, remote controls, watches, digital kitchen scales and thermometers. If ingested, they can cause serious injury to children, and we encourage consumers to review the product recall list on the Product Safety website.

“The button battery compartment must be safe and child-resistant, and if not, parents or caregivers should stop using the product immediately and keep it out of the reach of children,” she said.

If swallowed, a button battery can cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue, causing death or serious injury within a short period of time.

Heartbreaking loss leads to tireless campaign

Melbourne mother Allison Rees lost her one-year-old daughter Bella in 2015 after she swallowed a button battery and died.

Since then, she has campaigned for reform in an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of the common household item and save the lives of other children.

“After six years of campaigning, our concerns were finally addressed,” Allison wrote on her Facebook page to celebrate the news.

The devastated mom is so committed to change that she founded The footprints of Bella “educating and raising awareness of the dangers of button batteries”.

“Our goal is to help reduce button battery intakes in Australia,” she said.

“The smallest changes in merchandising, packaging, medical diagnosis and community awareness can make a big difference to the health and safety of our youngest citizens.

“Through education and awareness, we aim to make every family aware of the dangers of button batteries and to prevent death or injury from button batteries,” she said.

“It is our hope that no other family will ever have to endure the pain and suffering of losing a precious child in such a horrific way.”

The ACCC has urged parents to keep new and used button batteries out of sight and reach of small children at all times.

“Once you’re done using a button battery, put masking tape around both sides of the battery and immediately dispose of it in an outdoor container, out of the reach of children, or recycle it safely,” added Ms Rickard.

Consumers are encouraged to report unsafe products through the Product Safety Australia website.

Read related topics:Melbourne

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