More than a third of products being sold in Australia with potentially lethal button batteries fail to include mandatory warnings.
The batteries are commonly used in toys and other household items such as keys, remote controls, calculators, musical greeting cards, watches and kitchen scales.
New regulations introduced last year stipulate button batteries should not be able to be easily removed, and consumers must be warned about the dangers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission surveyed more than 400 businesses and found concerning levels of non-compliance with the new standards.
More than 90 per cent of products and button batteries complied with the safety standards, but 34 per cent of products with the tiny batteries and 28 per cent of packs of button batteries didn’t include the mandatory warning information or symbols.
ACCC deputy chair Catriona Lowe said three children had died in Australia after inserting or ingesting the batteries, which can cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue and seriously injures vital organs.
“If swallowed, a button battery can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause catastrophic injuries,” she said on Tuesday.
“Although it was encouraging to see that most button battery products likely adhered to the accessibility requirements, we are concerned about the levels of compliance with the information and warning requirements.”
Since the new standards began a year ago, the ACCC and state and territory consumer protection agencies have issued infringement notices, seized products, negotiated voluntary recalls and sent warnings to companies that failed to comply.
Two retailers have already been hit with fines over the supply of Halloween novelty products containing button batteries.
In April The Reject Shop was ordered to pay $133,200 and homewares company Dusk $106,560 after failing to comply with mandatory product safety and information requirements.
(Australian Associated Press)