According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), three children have died and at least one child is seriously injured every month after swallowing or inserting button batteries in their bodies.

Button batteries, also known as coin batteries, are small silver-coloured batteries which contain hazardous chemicals and can pose a serious risk to children who might find them. These batteries are often used in toys, watches, handheld games, singing birthday cards, calculators, torches, flameless candles and many other devices.

Button batteries can cause severe injury and even death

Children can access button batteries in a number of ways, including if the batteries are not secured, drop out of poor-quality products or packaging, or if the batteries are not disposed of properly after use.

If a child swallows a button battery or inserts it into their ear, nose or other body part, the chemical reaction can cause severe chemical burns, lasting damage to vital organs and even death within two hours.

To keep the risk of death and injury to a minimum, mandatory safety and information standards apply to button batteries and products which use these batteries.

Button battery safety from the ACCC

The safety and information standards for button/coin batteries include the following requirements:

  • Packaging must be child-resistant for button/coin batteries of lithium chemistry of all sizes, and button/coin batteries of a chemistry other than lithium with a diameter of 16 mm or above.
  • Compliance testing must demonstrate child-resistant packaging requirements have been met.
  • Where multiple button/coin batteries are supplied, blister packaging must be designed to release only one battery at a time.
  • Any spare button/coin batteries that are supplied with a consumer good, where the battery is not pre-installed in a secure battery compartment, must be enclosed in child-resistant packaging.

Download the ACCC button battery fact sheet

How do the safety standards affect your business?

If your business is involved in the manufacture, import or sale of button or coin batteries, or any products which use them, you need to make sure your products meet these standards, which are in effect from 22 June 2022.

Here are the key things to know about button batteries and your business.

Safety is your responsibility

It’s illegal – and dangerous – to sell or supply non-compliant products in Australia. Whether you make, import or sell button batteries or products containing them, every part of the supply chain is responsible for complying with these new safety and information standards.

Your products and packaging may need to be adapted and tested

If you make, sell or supply any products which contain button batteries and these batteries are supposed to be replaced by the consumer, you need to make sure each battery compartment is secure and can’t be opened by young children.

Any product with button batteries will need to meet safety requirements through compliance testing.

Products with button batteries need to feature a warning

Any product with button batteries will need to be sold with a warning on the packaging and in the instructions. If your product contains button batteries and is usually sold without packaging, you’ll need to make sure a warning is now attached or included with the product.

At a minimum, the warning needs to let people know the product contains button batteries and that these batteries can pose a life-threatening risk if misused. If your product is sold online, your product description should include a similar warning.

Online or offline, your warning information could also include information on how to dispose of button batteries safely and include the contact information for the Australian Poisons Information Centre.

The specific standards and warnings which apply depend on whether your products use button batteries or whether you’re directly selling the batteries themselves. Learn more about the Federal Government button battery safety standards.

An graphic showing an example of a warning label for a product containing button batteries.
An example of a warning label for products containing button batteries.

Different products may have different requirements

The button battery safety standards and requirements will not apply to some products, such as hearing aids, equipment meant for use in trades, professions or industries, or some other equipment, such as audio-visual technology where button/coin batteries are soldered in.

It’s important to know exactly how the new standards apply to your particular products. The ACCC will be conducting safety audits in businesses across Australia to make sure the button battery standards are being met. By taking action to make sure your products are compliant, you could help minimise the life-threatening risks of button batteries and could also avoid a penalty or court action for being non-complaint.

More information

For more information, read the ACCC’s Button/coin battery safety - a guide for business on the application of mandatory standards.

You might also like to learn more about importing products for your business or try our free small business advisory service to discuss any challenges you’re facing in your business.

Legal and risk
15 June 2022