Businesses which supply button batteries or products powered by them, such as Apple AirTags, must now comply with mandatory safety and information standards. The fine for failing to do so is pretty steep.
The standards stipulate that the products must have secure battery compartments. Mostly to prevent children accessing the batteries. On that, button batteries must be supplied in child-resistant packaging and both the products and batteries must have additional warnings and emergency advice on the batteries, packaging and instructions.
On the supplier end, they now have to ensure products have been compliance tested.
An important part to all of this is of course that little Apple AirTag.
You might remember back in May last year that Gizmodo Australia noticed Officeworks removed Apple’s AirTags from sale, quietly, due to safety concerns surrounding the button battery. We soon confirmed other retailers quickly followed, including JB Hi-Fi and Big W.
It isn’t just AirTags, however. Button batteries are found in a large number of common household items such as toys, remote controls, watches, digital kitchen scales and thermometers.
Button batteries have become a big topic in Australia over the past few years. This is due to the death of three children from swallowing button batteries from the period spanning 2013-2021.
Product Safety Australia estimates that 20 Australian children a week are taken to emergency departments due to swallowing button batteries.
This is why the ACCC kicked off work to bring in standards around button batteries.
All levels of the supply chain are now legally required to comply with the mandatory standards and the ACCC said it will be working with state and territory regulators to monitor compliance and take enforcement action when necessary.
“Inspectors will be out looking for unsafe products both online and in stores such as discount retailers, variety shops, major retailers, pharmacies, newsagents and at large events,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said.
“Businesses are on notice that serious penalties may apply if we find unsafe or non-compliant products.”
What’s the penalty? Well, supplying consumer goods which fail to comply with the Standards is likely to contravene the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and expose a business or individual to potential enforcement action by the ACCC.
For corporations, the maximum financial penalty for a breach of the ACL will be either $10 million, three times the value of the benefit received or 10 per cent of annual turnover in the preceding 12 months – whichever is higher.
For individuals, the maximum financial penalty for a breach of the ACL will be $500,000.