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New Zealand: New voluntary guideline for household goods with button batteries

February 2018- Relevant for: Electrical & electronics

New Zealand Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has published a policy statement1 addressing the risk associated with button batteries in household goods. Button batteries can pose risk of choking and cause severe burns when swallowed. This guideline can help manufacturers and suppliers of such goods to improve product safety by making all household goods “child-resistant”. This voluntary compliance follows the similar approach from the Australian industry code published in 2016.

Products containing or supplied with button batteries

  • Battery compartments should be secured which have two mechanisms for release and both must be activated to open. Such products should also pass the tests with expected and abuse use that the battery compartment cannot be accidentally opened or insecure.
  • The policy statement provides below standards to assist sourcing safer goods with button batteries:
    • AS/NZS ISO 8124.1 Safety of toys – Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties
    • ISO 8124-1 Safety of toys – Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties
    • EN 71-1 Safety of toys – Part 1: Mechanical and physical properties
    • ASTM F963 – Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toys Safety
    • UL 4200A – Standard for Safety for Products Incorporating Button or Coin Cell Batteries of Lithium Technologies

Replacement batteries and used/spent batteries that are available for sale

Button batteries must be supplied in packaging that is child-resistant, and marked with warning of the hazards to children. Packaging should advise consumers to keep away button batteries from children and to dispose the used batteries properly.

The policy statement includes all flat, disc-shaped cells or batteries, regardless of their size and chemistry (lithium, alkaline or other). Apart from children’s toy, household goods that contain button batteries (e.g. bathroom scales and remote controls) are not subject to specific safety regulations. However, these types of goods are commonly found around the home and easily accessed. According to the policy statement, it is reported that 20 children swallowing button batteries are taken to the hospital in New Zealand each year.

[1] New Zealand product safety policy statement for button batteries, 2 Feb 2017

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