What Are the Best Practices for UK Children’s Toy Brands to Ensure Product Safety Compliance?

April 17, 2024

As brands producing toys for children, you are well aware that the stakes are high. Beyond the responsibility of entertaining and educating our children, there’s a more pressing concern: safety. Children’s safety is paramount and making sure the toys you manufacture meet the necessary standards and requirements can be a demanding task.

Today, we delve into the best practises for UK children’s toy brands to conform to product safety compliance, helping you ensure the well-being of our future generations. This article establishes four key areas of focus: toy safety testing, compliance with safety standards, understanding regulations, and certification and conformity marking.

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1. Toy Safety Testing

An excellent starting point for ensuring product safety compliance is engaging in comprehensive toy safety testing.

In the world of toys, safety testing is not an option; it’s a requirement. Toy safety testing is the process of examining and evaluating toys for potential hazards. The goal is to ensure that the toys don’t pose any risk of injury to children during play.

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In the UK, various testing methods are applicable to different types of toys. For example, a soft plush toy gets evaluated for features such as small parts that could be a choking hazard, sharp points and edges, and the flammability of the toy’s fabric. In contrast, an electronic toy gets tested for electrical safety, electromagnetic compatibility, and battery safety.

On your part, ensure you work with a testing lab that understands the market requirements and employs up-to-date methods of testing. The lab should also adhere to the relevant European and international standards, such as the EN71 and ASTM.

2. Compliance with Safety Standards

In addition to safety testing, you must ensure that your products conform to the necessary safety standards.

Standards form the backbone of product safety. When your toys meet the set standards, it signifies that your products have attained a certain level of safety that is acceptable in the market. In the UK, the main standard for toys is the EN71, divided into parts that cover different aspects of safety.

For instance, EN71-1 focuses on the mechanical and physical properties of toys, EN71-2 covers flammability, and EN71-3 pertains to the migration of certain elements. It’s also worth noting that there are other standards such as ASTM F963 and ISO 8124 that are recognized globally.

To achieve compliance with these standards, you need to understand each standard’s requirements and integrate them into your product design and manufacturing process.

3. Understanding Regulations

Understanding and complying with the set regulations is another crucial aspect of ensuring product safety compliance.

In the UK, the Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC is the main regulation governing the safety of toys. It’s designed to ensure that all toys sold in the EU are safe. It covers a wide range of requirements, from the design and manufacture of toys to their marketing and labelling.

The directive requires that toys do not pose any risk (or only minimal risks) to children’s health and safety when used as intended or in a foreseeable way. It also mandates that all toys bear a CE marking, indicating that the product meets all EU safety, health, and environmental protection requirements.

To stay compliant, you must keep abreast of any changes or updates to the regulations. Familiarize yourself with the directive’s provisions and implement them in your operations.

4. Certification and Conformity Marking

Lastly, certification and conformity marking play a significant role in demonstrating that your toys meet the required safety standards and regulations.

Certification from a recognized body provides third-party validation that your toys have met the applicable safety standards. In the UK, certification bodies like the British Standards Institution (BSI) can provide such services.

On the other hand, conformity marking, such as the CE marking, is a visible declaration that the toys comply with the relevant legislation. However, it’s important to note that the CE marking is not a safety mark per se, but a manufacturer’s declaration that the product meets EU legislation requirements.

To ensure compliance, always ensure that your products bear the correct conformity marking, and consider obtaining voluntary certification for additional assurance.

By focusing on these four aspects: toy safety testing, compliance with safety standards, understanding regulations, and certification and conformity marking, you can effectively ensure product safety compliance for your toys. Remember, the goal is not just to meet a legal requirement but more importantly, to contribute to the safety and well-being of our children. So, ensuring that the toys your brand produces are safe should always be a top priority.

5. Conformity Assessment and Authorised Representative

The conformity assessment and the role of an authorised representative are parts of the broad scheme of product safety compliance for children’s toys in the UK.

The conformity assessment process is a comprehensive evaluation of your toy against the relevant requirements of the Toy Safety Directive and safety standards like EN71 or ASTM. This process, conducted by a third-party, is crucial in determining whether your toy meets essential safety requirements.

In the UK, as of January 1, 2021, the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) marking is the conformity marking used for goods being placed on the market in Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales). The UKCA marking covers most goods that previously required the CE marking. For goods being placed in Northern Ireland, the CE marking remains necessary. This shift, triggered by Brexit, demands brands to be alert and adapt their compliance strategies accordingly.

Additionally, having an authorised representative can facilitate your compliance journey. This party can deal with regulatory authorities on your behalf, ensuring that your product meets all the requirements and regulations, and can also handle tasks like compiling technical documentation. An authorised representative can be an asset, especially for businesses that are based outside of the EU but want to sell their toys in the European market.

6. Public Education and Recall Procedures

Educating the public on toy safety and having an effective recall procedure in place are highly beneficial for your brand.

Public education, while not a legal requirement, can help consumers make informed decisions about the toys they purchase for their children. By offering information about safety features or guidelines for safe usage, you can instill confidence in consumers about your brand’s commitment to toy safety.

Moreover, recall procedures are critical in the event that a safety issue arises after your toy has entered the market. Regulations apply to recall procedures, and authorities like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provide guidelines for carrying out recalls effectively. To be prepared, you should have a recall plan in place that includes steps for identifying and correcting the issue, notifying consumers, and ensuring the efficient return of the affected toys.

Conclusion

Adhering to product safety compliance is not a one-size-fits-all process; it requires a combination of robust safety testing, strict adherence to safety standards, a deep understanding of regulations, proper certification and conformity marking, effective conformity assessment, and proactive public education and recall procedures.

As a UK children’s toy brand, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety of the children years and years to come. The toy market is not just about fun and games; it’s about providing a safe environment for children to explore, learn, and grow. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can contribute to that mission, ensuring your toys are not just appealing, but are safe and trusted by parents and caregivers from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and beyond.

Remember, the end goal is not just to meet legal requirements but to contribute to the safety and well-being of our children. Ensuring that the toys your brand produces are safe should always be a top priority.