Apple AirTags pulled from shelves in Officeworks over child safety fears
The new Apple AirTag range will be “temporarily” unavailable from Officeworks as the retailer awaits further guidance around the risk button batteries pose to children, despite Apple stating the product is safe.
Apple unveiled its new AirTags last month, with the aim to help users track and locate everything from keys to bags and jackets.
When attached to objects, the small tags communicate with Apple devices to help users locate their items.
The tags are powered by a CR2032 button battery which can be removed by pressing on one side of the tag and twisting the lid counterclockwise. There is no screw to keep the battery compartment shut.
Officeworks said it had pulled the AirTags from sale “until further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission”.
“The Apple AirTag range will temporarily be unavailable from purchase from Officeworks,” a spokesperson told the ABC.
“Officeworks continues to work with Apple to address any safety concerns.”
In Australia, an estimated 20 children per week turn up at hospital emergency departments with suspected button battery ingestions.
Up to two dozen children per year end up with serious, lifelong injuries.
The ACCC said they were aware of concerns about the accessibility of button batteries in the Apple AirTag product and “is urgently engaging with Apple”.
Apple says its AirTag range complies with Australian child safety standards.
“AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two-step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery,” a spokesperson said.
“We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required.”
World-first mandatory standards
In December 2020, the federal government announced world-first mandatory safety and information standards for button batteries and products that contain them.
The new mandatory standards govern consumer products only. They require secure battery compartments for any item that contains button batteries, safety testing of those compartments, child-resistant packaging for the batteries themselves, and product warnings to alert customers that the product that they are buying contains a button battery.
The mandatory standards include an 18-month transition period and come into force on July 22, 2022.
The ABC understands Apple plans to update the product packaging and warnings for AirTags sold in Australia before the deadline to comply with Australia’s new information standard.