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new battery safety standards introduced

26 April 2022
paul kirton lachlan gibbs
Read Time 3 mins reading time

New standards for button and coin battery safety are set to become mandatory on 22 June 2022. These changes impact products containing button/coin batteries and the packing of the batteries themselves.

The Australian government introduced four standards, including:

  • Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard;
  • Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Information Standard;
  • Consumer Goods (Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard; and
  • Consumer Goods (Button/Coin Batteries) Information Standard.

These standards came into effect in December 2020 and introduced greater safety requirements for businesses to offer greater protection for consumers, particularly children. The standards were introduced given three children have died and a further 44 who were severely injured in incidents involving button/coin batteries.

enforcement

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has flagged that following the date the standards become mandatory, they will be taking enforcement action against businesses that fail to comply.

We have discussed the ACCC’s focus and drive for greater regulation and its awareness campaigns in our prior Insight articles. Given there has already been an 18-month grace period between the introduction of the standards and the mandated date, it is unlikely the ACCC will be lenient if they find businesses are not complying with the new standards. The ACCC will be conducting market surveillance to ensure that button/coin batteries and the products containing them meet the standards.

The ACCC may issue fines, infringement notices and require products to be recalled, amongst other remedies if products fail to meet the standards.

Failure to comply with the standards may make a business liable to the product liability provisions in the Australian Consumer Law. The maximum penalty is the greater of:

  • $10,000,000;
  • three times the value of the benefit gained; or
  • 10% of the corporation’s turnover in the year preceding the offence.

what obligations do the standards introduce?

The standards apply to products that contain button/coin batteries and to the button/ coin batteries themselves when being sold.

The products that contain these batteries, whether or not the battery is intended to be replaced, must:

  • have secure battery compartments to prevent children from accessing the batteries;
  • be tested to demonstrate they comply with the standards through use or foreseeable misuse; and
  • have adequate warnings clearly visible and included in both inside the product’s packaging and on the outside.

If the product does not come with packaging, then the warning must be attached to the product itself.

The packaging of these batteries (eg. when supplied as a replacement or with products) must:

  • be child-resistant
  • if the package contains multiple batteries, be designed to only release one battery at a time;
  • if a product comes with these batteries to be installed by the consumer, be supplied in child-resistant packaging;
  • meet specified compliance tests; and
  • clearly display the required warning symbol and words.

The regime also provides additional recommendations warnings and information advice.  While not mandatory, they do set the level of best practice.  We recommend these be adopted as, ultimately, preventing an injury or death in the first place is imminently better than defending against legal liability.

who must comply with the new standards?

The new standards place the responsibility on all those participating within the supply chain of consumer goods containing button/coin batteries to comply with the standards. This includes the manufacturer, importer, distributor, and retailer.

The standard does not apply to second-hand goods supplied before the standards were made mandatory, to professional equipment (subject to meeting certain criteria), audio visual and information communication technology containing button/coin batteries that are soldered in place and hearing aids (hearing aids are still required to comply with the package warning requirements).

The ACCC is further encouraging consumers to assist in the process by reporting unsafe products to the Product Safety Australia website.

need assistance?

If you are a business that manufactures, distributes, or retails products that contain button or coin batteries we strongly recommend you seek advice to ensure your compliance with these new standards to avoid penalties, product recalls, or significant breaches of the ACL.

For assistance, please contact Paul Kirton of our Intellectual Property and Trade team in Dandenong.

stay up to date with our news & insights

new battery safety standards introduced

26 April 2022
paul kirton lachlan gibbs

New standards for button and coin battery safety are set to become mandatory on 22 June 2022. These changes impact products containing button/coin batteries and the packing of the batteries themselves.

The Australian government introduced four standards, including:

  • Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard;
  • Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Information Standard;
  • Consumer Goods (Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard; and
  • Consumer Goods (Button/Coin Batteries) Information Standard.

These standards came into effect in December 2020 and introduced greater safety requirements for businesses to offer greater protection for consumers, particularly children. The standards were introduced given three children have died and a further 44 who were severely injured in incidents involving button/coin batteries.

enforcement

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has flagged that following the date the standards become mandatory, they will be taking enforcement action against businesses that fail to comply.

We have discussed the ACCC’s focus and drive for greater regulation and its awareness campaigns in our prior Insight articles. Given there has already been an 18-month grace period between the introduction of the standards and the mandated date, it is unlikely the ACCC will be lenient if they find businesses are not complying with the new standards. The ACCC will be conducting market surveillance to ensure that button/coin batteries and the products containing them meet the standards.

The ACCC may issue fines, infringement notices and require products to be recalled, amongst other remedies if products fail to meet the standards.

Failure to comply with the standards may make a business liable to the product liability provisions in the Australian Consumer Law. The maximum penalty is the greater of:

  • $10,000,000;
  • three times the value of the benefit gained; or
  • 10% of the corporation’s turnover in the year preceding the offence.

what obligations do the standards introduce?

The standards apply to products that contain button/coin batteries and to the button/ coin batteries themselves when being sold.

The products that contain these batteries, whether or not the battery is intended to be replaced, must:

  • have secure battery compartments to prevent children from accessing the batteries;
  • be tested to demonstrate they comply with the standards through use or foreseeable misuse; and
  • have adequate warnings clearly visible and included in both inside the product’s packaging and on the outside.

If the product does not come with packaging, then the warning must be attached to the product itself.

The packaging of these batteries (eg. when supplied as a replacement or with products) must:

  • be child-resistant
  • if the package contains multiple batteries, be designed to only release one battery at a time;
  • if a product comes with these batteries to be installed by the consumer, be supplied in child-resistant packaging;
  • meet specified compliance tests; and
  • clearly display the required warning symbol and words.

The regime also provides additional recommendations warnings and information advice.  While not mandatory, they do set the level of best practice.  We recommend these be adopted as, ultimately, preventing an injury or death in the first place is imminently better than defending against legal liability.

who must comply with the new standards?

The new standards place the responsibility on all those participating within the supply chain of consumer goods containing button/coin batteries to comply with the standards. This includes the manufacturer, importer, distributor, and retailer.

The standard does not apply to second-hand goods supplied before the standards were made mandatory, to professional equipment (subject to meeting certain criteria), audio visual and information communication technology containing button/coin batteries that are soldered in place and hearing aids (hearing aids are still required to comply with the package warning requirements).

The ACCC is further encouraging consumers to assist in the process by reporting unsafe products to the Product Safety Australia website.

need assistance?

If you are a business that manufactures, distributes, or retails products that contain button or coin batteries we strongly recommend you seek advice to ensure your compliance with these new standards to avoid penalties, product recalls, or significant breaches of the ACL.

For assistance, please contact Paul Kirton of our Intellectual Property and Trade team in Dandenong.