The death of a four-year-old girl in Queensland has prompted Australian manufacturers of lithium batteries to introduce child-proof packaging for their products.
As the ABC reports, the move follows the death of Sunshine Coast girl Summer Steer. The child swallowed one of the batteries which subsequently burnt a hole in her stomach.
The announcement follows a meeting convened in Sydney last week by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Battery manufacturers, importers, retailers and industry associations were represented at the meeting.
Those involved agreed to strengthen consumer education, improve warnings on packaging and introduce childproof packaging as soon as possible.
Lithium batteries are small and button-shaped. They are often found in household devices, such as remote controls. If swallowed, they can become lodged within the body. A chemical reaction caused by saliva can burn a whole in organs such as the oesophagus.
"People have gone away to work out how long it will take them. More work on education can happen pretty much immediately," acting ACCC chair Delia Rickard said.
"The warnings can be relatively soon and the packaging will take a little bit longer.
"So they're coming back to us with their timetable on how long it will take them to do it, but everybody understands the urgency of getting it done."
Smartcompany.com.au reports that announcement was welcomed by Kidsafe NSW executive officer Christine Erskine.
In 2012, Kidsafe, the ACCC and Energizer launched a battery safety campaign.
"We support what they have indicated – child resistant packaging and a look at the devices themselves, as children can manipulate the devices to open them and get the batteries out. (We support) the warnings on packaging to alert the community and community education, “Erskine said.
Susan Teerds from Kidsafe Queensland said that the announcement is a good first step. However, more needs to be done to protect children from the batteries once they are out of the packaging.
"I think that organisations that design and manufacture products that use the batteries need to be involved as well," Teerds said.
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