BSI Group Urges parents to be aware of Toy Safety this Christmas

Press release - 8th December 2003

At Christmas, the busiest toy-buying season of the year, consumers across the UK should look out for the inclusion of European Standard BS EN 71 on toys and packaging. Standards play an essential role in the design and manufacture of toys, and BS EN 71 shows that the product has been tested to agreed European toy safety standards.

Mike Low, director of British Standards says "Parents should pay close attention to warnings and labelling, age warning symbols and carefully read instructions. They should take particular care not to buy toys that children are too young for, which have small parts that could be easily swallowed."

The eight parts to BS EN 71

Part six (BS EN 71-6) covers age warning labelling and specifies the requirements of the symbols used on toys not suitable for children under the age of three, whereas part eight (BS EN 71-8) refers specifically to play equipment. The new standard for play equipment introduced this year is crucial, as in the UK in 1999 it is estimated over 18,000* children were injured at home when using swings, slides and climbing frames.

Toys such as swings, slides and climbing frames should carry a clearly legible label on the toy or packaging "for domestic use only". The packaging or instructions should also provide information as to the mass, and/or age of the child for whom the toy is intended and provide clear assembly instructions.

Before toys reach the shelves in the UK, they undergo rigorous safety testing in the design and manufacture process. Different types of toys, and even different parts of the same toy, must meet certain specifications outlined in BS EN 71 before they can be considered safe for children to use.

What does safety testing include?

Safety testing might include setting a teddy bear alight to check it does not burn too quickly. This provides a child the chance to drop the toy before it is engulfed in flames. Part two (BS EN 71-2) ensures that certain flammable materials, which pose the greatest risk, are prohibited from all toys.

Mike Low, director of British Standards adds, "In the build up to Christmas, we are particularly aware of the importance of toy safety as many parents will be buying them for their children. Safety standards are regularly reviewed and updated, and BS EN 71 on a toy or its packaging is recognition of its compliance with the highest possible toy safety standards."

Toys that can be legally sold within the European Community must meet the requirements set out by the European Community Directive for Toy Safety. In the UK this is met through Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995, and usually entails toys meeting the requirements of BS EN 71, and carrying CE marking.

* Statistics relate to play or fairground equipment. Taken from the DTI Home Accident Surveillance System (HASS) database 1999.