Commissioner's Blog: Unsafe products pulled from shelves

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ConsumerProduct safety

Flashing decorations and jewellery and musical stockings and greeting cards are among the items that made it on to the naughty list during Consumer Protection’s annual pre-Christmas product safety inspections.

We are urging the WA community to check button battery powered products twice because the lithium batteries, which are shiny and might look like sweets to toddlers, can kill or seriously injure a child if they are swallowed.

Battery-operated toys must have secured covers, which prevent a child being able to access the battery but the same rule does not apply if the item is not considered to be a toy. In the eyes of a child something that flashes or makes noises may seem like a toy and this year

Consumer Protection has taken that approach during a Christmas product safety blitz focussed on button battery powered products.

Of 105 button battery operated items inspected, at 44 different retailers, 20 were considered to be not secured appropriately and failed a ‘drop test’, leaving potentially deadly lithium batteries exposed after the item hit the floor. If swallowed, button batteries can become stuck in a child's throat and burn through the oesophagus in under two hours. Tragically there have been deaths including that of 4-year-old Summer Steer of Queensland in 2013. Children who survive button battery ingestion can require feeding and breathing tubes and multiple surgeries.

WA retailers are on the nice list for their cooperation. When Consumer Protection’s concerns about certain button battery powered products were brought to the attention of retailers, store managers acted quickly to remove the items from sale voluntarily, which is highly commendable. An example was the removal of LED Lava Drops from 57 retailers including all Target stores after the item failed a ‘drop test’. Refunds are being offered to anyone who has purchased one.

Despite the best efforts of Consumer Protection officers, there may still be dangerous button battery powered products in the community. We want parents, grandparents and carers to be very aware that if a child accesses these batteries and swallows one, it could result in serious injury, permanent disability or even death.

Safety tips:

  • Keep loose coin-sized button batteries (new or old/flat) and devices which contain them (remote controls, garage door clickers, digital scales etc.) out of reach of children.
  • Check battery compartments are secure and supervise children playing with battery-operated toys.
  • Dispose of used batteries immediately and safely (safe disposal means wrapping up the batteries and putting them in a bin that cannot be accessed by children or disposing of them at a battery recycling facility without any chance of children getting hold of them during transportation).
  • If a child swallows a button battery do not let them eat or drink, do not make them vomit and seek immediate medical attention – a burn can occur in just two hours.
  • As well as attending hospital or seeing an emergency doctor, you can speak to The Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for additional treatment information.
  • Tell others about the risks associated with button batteries and how to keep kids safe. In Australia, an estimated 20 children per week present to an emergency department with an injury related to a button battery.
  • Further information on button battery safety is available at: www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/tag/batterycontrolled.
  • WA consumers with concerns about button-battery powered products, such as those with unsecured battery compartments, should report details to Consumer Protection as soon as possible by email: consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or phone: 1300 30 40 54.

 

David Hillyard, Acting Commissioner
David Hillyard, Acting Commissioner, by CP Media
David Hillyard, Acting Commissioner, by CP Media

 

Consumer Protection
Department News
23 Dec 2015

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