Friday, 16 August 2019 13:23

ACCC to investigate need for stronger button battery safety Featured

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has established a Button Battery Taskforce to investigate ways to reduce the risk to the community - particularly children - of button batteries.

Announcing the investigation on Friday, the ACCC highlighted the fact that, in Australia two children have died in the past six years after swallowing a button battery - and hundreds of children suspected of swallowing button batteries have ended up in hospital emergency rooms.

And at least 64 children have died globally.

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

“If a child swallows a button battery it can get stuck in their oesophagus or elsewhere in their system, causing death or serious illness,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“Button batteries burn through soft tissue in as little as two hours and continue to pose a severe injury risk for children. It can be hard for doctors to identify the symptoms of battery button ingestion if the parent isn’t aware the child has swallowed one.”

“This new Button Battery Taskforce will consider what regulatory options could be introduced to improve the safety of both button batteries and consumer products that contain them.”

The ACCC has also released an issues paper for public consultation and is seeking feedback from stakeholders including consumers, retailers, manufacturers and health practitioners on a range of issues and options.

Following a number of paediatric injuries from button battery ingestion, in March 2019 - acting on the ACCC’s recommendation - the then Assistant Treasurer, the Stuart Robert, issued a Safety Warning Notice on the dangers of button batteries.

The ACCC says it will be providing a draft recommendation to government by the end of 2019, with a final recommendation to be made in 2020.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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