The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recently formalized a final rule, instigating a compulsory safety standard applicable to consumer items deploying button cell or coin batteries. This definitive regulation is a result of the enactment of Reese’s Law, detailed under 15 U.S.C. § 2056e, the objective of which is to mitigate the risks and hazards linked to the ingestion of such batteries by individuals aged six years or below. The batteries under consideration are integral components of an extensive array of consumer goods. The regulatory measures executed by CPSC involve not only the imposition of mandatory safety standards related to the integration of batteries in consumer items but also the incorporation of cautionary notices on the packaging and within the manuals and instructions accompanying products embedding button cell or coin batteries.
CPSC has highlighted the severe consequences associated with the ingestion of button cell and coin batteries, emphasizing that these batteries have the potential to cause severe internal burns within a child’s esophagus in a timeframe as minimal as two hours post-ingestion. Reports between 2011 and March of the present year unveil a disturbing scenario, with 32 recorded fatalities and an approximate 54,300 injuries necessitating emergency medical intervention, all attributed to the swallowing of these specific battery types.
Mandatory Safety Protocols and Timelines
The instituted mandatory safety protocol, delineated as ANSI/UL 4200A-2023, mandates the necessity of tools, such as a coin or screwdriver, or the implementation of dual independent and simultaneous hand movements for accessing a product’s battery compartment, along with the conduction of performance tests under plausible conditions of use or misuse. A notable exception to this standard is toys that align with the battery accessibility and labeling requisites delineated in the Toy Standard, 16 CFR part 1250.
This mandatory regulation is slated to come into enforcement on October 23, 2023, necessitating compliance for all consumer products incorporating button cell or coin batteries manufactured or imported post this date. CPSC retains the prerogative to retract or reevaluate the regulation contingent on the receipt of critical comments by October 5, 2023, demonstrating the inappropriateness of the rule. Third-party evaluations and certifications, exclusive of toys compliant with the Toy Standard, are postponed until December 20, 2023, or later, with a transitional enforcement discretion period extending up to March 19, 2024, in acknowledgment of restricted testing capabilities and to circumvent undue hardships.
Packaging and Instructional Alerts
In a distinct conclusive regulation, CPSC has also mandated the inclusion of explicit warnings on the packaging of consumer products featuring such batteries and on products that include these batteries separately. The newly incorporated rule, as articulated under 16 C.F.R. § 1263.1, et seq., necessitates the depiction of a clear pictograph on the product packaging coupled with alerts regarding ingestion risks and internal chemical burns, advisory notices, and the contact details of the National Battery Ingestion Hotline. The final version of this rule, effective from September 21, 2024, has excised the initially proposed “point-of-sale warning requirements” for online sales of button cell or coin batteries.
Child-Resistant Packaging Post-February 12, 2023
Reese’s Law also stipulates that post-February 12, 2023, all button cell or coin batteries, whether sold separately or incorporated within consumer products, manufactured, or imported into the U.S., must conform to child-resistant packaging requisites, as laid down in the Poison Prevention Packaging Standards, emphasizing the overall safety and well-being of the young consumers.
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