Button batteries product safety policy statement

Button batteries are used in many household products. While they don’t seem hazardous, they can cause serious lifelong medical conditions and even death.

Background

If someone swallows or inserts a button battery it could get stuck and start causing significant irreversible damage in as little as 2 hours. Children are the highest risk group, particularly those aged 6 and younger, because of their tendency to put things in their mouths and noses. But there have also been cases where the elderly have mistaken small batteries for tablets.

Safekids Aotearoa, a leading child safety advocate group, reports that every year 20 children are taken to Starship Hospital with serious button battery-related injuries. The National Poisons Centre gets around 90 button battery-related calls a year, almost all of which require referral to hospital for treatment. 

Research indicates that in around 60% of button battery injuries involving children, the batteries have come from a device.

Button battery time-lapse video

button battery time lapse video

View transcript

Transcript

Duration: 0:41

Using ham as an analogue for the human oesophagus, this time-lapse video shows the effects of an electric current from a button battery that — when it comes into contact with fluids — destroys tissue, and can lead to permanent injury or death.

What you can do as a supplier

Identify which of your products have button batteries:

  • Check them against the guidance.
  • Are they safe — or can they be made safer?

If you're sourcing new products that have button batteries, make sure you choose or specify that:

  • devices have secure child-resistant battery compartments
  • button batteries are in child-resistant packaging
  • button battery information and warnings are present.

There's more useful information for suppliers on the Battery Controlled website.

The Battery Controlled website(external link)

Actual policy statement

This is the official version of the product safety policy statement for button batteries:

Product Safety Policy Statement — Button batteries; safer products and packaging [PDF, 483 KB]

The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hon Kris Faafoi, announced the button batteries policy statement in February 2018.

Beehive website — Minister acts to improve button battery safety for Kiwi families(external link)