August 30, 2023
One Year Later: Reese’s Law Advances Child Safety in Small-Battery Products
ULSE releases updated standard to combat increasing coin and button cell battery ingestion accidents
WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 30, 2023) — Today, UL Standards & Engagement (ULSE) released an updated edition of UL4200A, Products Incorporating Button Batteries or Coin Cell Batteries, aimed at strengthening protections against harm from accidental ingestion of coin or button cell batteries, particularly for young children.
The updated standard comes in the wake of Reese’s Law, which was signed by President Biden last August. The law directed the Consumer Product Safety Commission to strengthen protections for young children. CPSC issued a proposed rule in March to establish performance requirements for battery compartments, and ULSE immediately reconvened its expert committee to review its standard.
“Our mission of working for a safer world is a job that’s never done,” said Dr. David Steel, executive director at ULSE. “We are committed to evolving our standards as risks emerge and change, and I’m grateful that this updated standard will make a critical difference in protecting young children from harm.”
Coin or button cell batteries are prevalent in everyday household products. While the batteries can be stored out of reach of children, the products powered by them — including remotes, key fobs, and other common items — are found all over the home.
The newly updated standard is the result of a consensus process and enhances safety through new guidelines on design, additional testing, and incorporation of a childproof opening mechanism. More stringent requirements for toys’ battery compartments exist (ASTM International’s F963 standard), but batteries can be removed or fall out of any product that is in reach of children.
Unfortunately, accidents happen far too often. According to CPSC, in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the number of ingestions in children has dramatically increased over the last 10 years, estimating 70,322 battery-related emergency department visits from 2010 to 2019, dramatically up from the 1990 to 2009 estimate of 40,400.
Trista Hamsmith lost her 18-month-old daughter, Reese, to coin cell battery ingestion in December 2020. She then founded Reese’s Purpose, an advocacy group raising awareness of the dangers of coin cell batteries. Hamsmith contributed her perspective to ULSE during the standard revision process.
“Reese’s Purpose has consistently stated button battery safety is a multifaceted approach,” said Hamsmith. “We are thankful UL 4200A will better protect our most vulnerable from button battery ingestion. Since the death of Reese, we have tirelessly worked for something like this. We deeply appreciate the hard work from everyone to make this part of the solution stronger.”
The newly released standard is the product of a consensus process that includes discussion and voting with ULSE’s technical committee. For UL 4200A, the committee is made up of 20 members including manufacturers in the tech and home products space, consumer nonprofits, trade associations, and government agencies, including CPSC (though CPSC is a non-voting member).
“I want to thank Trista Hamsmith for her passionate advocacy and the members of our technical committee for their timely review. The result is an updated standard that will do more to protect lives,” Steel concluded.
The full text of UL 4200A can be viewed at no cost here.
About UL Standards & Engagement
UL Standards & Engagement is a nonprofit organization that translates safety science into action through standards development, partnerships and advocacy. Since 1903, we have developed nearly 1,700 standards and guidance documents for products ranging from fire doors to autonomous vehicles. ULSE enables innovation and grows trust by convening experts and informing policymakers and regulators as we work toward a safer, more secure and sustainable future. Visit ulse.org for more information.
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