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Toy safety – Corrugation texture – PVC accessory system

Potential hazards

Small toys may be swallowed by children, such as this electronic button seen in the stomach. Toys stuck in the esophagus or too large to pass through the stomach may need to be removed with endoscopes.

Common scenarios include:

Choking or aspiration of small parts


Cuts by sharp parts of the toy

Injury by projectiles


Motor vehicle incidents involving toys

Lead Paint

Accident frequency

Accidents involving toys are quite common, with 40,000 happening each year in the United Kingdom (according to 1998 figures – data has not been collected in the UK since 2003), accounting for less than 1% of annual accidents. In 2005 in the U.S., 20 children under 15 years of age died in incidents associated with toys, and an estimated 202,300 children under 15 were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with toys, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. In the European Union, no fatal accidents have been reported in the European Injury Database since 2002.

Safety standards

Distinction must be drawn between regulations and voluntary safety standards. From the table below, it can be seen that many regions model their safety standards on the EU’s EN 71 standard, either directly, or through adoption of the ISO 8124 standard which itself is modelled on EN 71.


Standard(s) and Regulations


ISO 8124-1:2000 Safety aspects relating to mechanical and physical properties

ISO 8124-2: 1994 Flammability

ISO 8124-3: 1997 Migration of certain elements

ISO 8098: 1989 Cycles safety requirements for bicycles for young children


Instituto Argentino de Racionalization de Materials 3583:

Parte 1: 1986 Seguridad de los juguetes, marcado, rotulasdo y embalaje

Parte 2: 1988 Propiedades mecanicas y fisicas

Parte 3: 1988 Inflammabilidad

Parte 4: 1991 Requisitos toxicologicos

Parte 5: 1996 Juegos de experimentos quimicos y actividades relacionadas


AS/NZS ISO 8124.1-2002 Safety of toys (safety requirements) Part 1: Mechanical and physical property requirements

AS/NZS ISO 8124 2-2003 Safety of toys (safety requirements) Part 2: Flammability requirements

AS/NZS ISO 8124.3-2003 Safety of toys (safety requirements) Part 3 Migration of certain elements requirements

AS 8124.4-2003 Safety of toys: (safety requirements) Part 4: Experimental sets for chemistry requirements

AS 8124.5-2003 Safety of toys (safety requirements) Part 5: Chemical requirements

AS 8124.7-2003

Safety of toys – finger paints – requirements and test methods


ABNT (Brazilian Association of Technical Standards)

NBR 11786/1998 – Toy Safety


Technical Standards Safety Act and Upholstered and Stuffed Articles Regulation

Hazardous Products Act R.S. c. H-3

Hazardous Products (Toys) Regulations C.R.C., c. 931

Hazardous Products (Pacifiers) Regulations: “Knob-Like” Pacifiers Policy

Regulations Respecting the Advertising, Sale and Importation of Hazardous Products (Pacifiers) under Hazardous Products Act

A Guide to Safety Requirements for Toys

Toys: Age Classification Guidelines


ISO 8124.1:2002 Safety of Toys – Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties

GB 9832-93 Safety and Quality of Sewn, Plush and Cloth Toys

GB 5296.5-96

Labeling and Instructions for Toys

Chinese Taipei

Chinese National Standard CNS 4797, 4798 Toy Safety Standard

Chinese National Standard CNS 12940 for Strollers and Carriages

Toy Goods Labeling Criteria

European Union

EN 71-1:2005+A8:2009 Safety of toys: Mechanical and physical properties

EN 71-2:2006+A1:2007 Flammability requirements

EN 71-3:1994/AC:2002, Specification for migration of certain elements

EN 71-4:1990/A3:2007 Experimental sets for chemistry and related activities

EN 71-5:1993, Chemical toys (sets) other than experimental sets

EN 71-6:1994 Graphical symbols for age warning labeling

EN 71-7: 2002 Finger paints Requirements and test methods

EN 71-8:2003 Safety of toys – Outdoor activity toys

EN 71-9: 2005 Organic chemical compounds

EN 62115:2005 Safety of electric toys

Council Directive (88/378/EEC) Approximation of the laws of the member states concerning the safety of toys

Council Directive (2009/48/EC)on the Safety of Toys

Council Directive (87/357/EEC) Dangerous imitations directive

Council Directive (93/68/EEC) Rules for the affixing and use of the CE conformity marking

Hong Kong

Toys and Children’s Products Safety Regulation (in compliance with ASTM F963, ICTI or EN-71)


JS 90:1983 Jamaican Standard Specification for Safety of toys and playthings


The Japan Toy Association Toy Safety Standard

Part 1 – Mechanical and Physical Properties

Part 2 – Flammability

Part 3 – Chemical Properties


Safety of Toys

MS EN71 Part 1:1995 (P) Mechanical and Physical Properties

MS ISO 8124-2:1999 Flammability

MS EN71 Part 3: 1998 Migration of Certain Elements

MS EN71 Part 4:1998 Experimental Sets for Chemistry and Related Activities

MS EN71 Part 5: 1998

Chemical Toys (Sets) Other than Experimental Sets


NOM 015/10-SCFI/SSA-1994

Toy Safety and Commercial Information – Toy and School Material Safety. Limits on the Bioavailability of Metals used on Articles with Paints and Dyes. Chemical Specifications and Test Methods.

New Zealand

AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002 Safety of Toys – Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties (ISO 8124.1:2000, MOD)

AS/NZS ISO 8124.2:2003 Safety of Toys – Flammability (ISO 8124.2: 1994, MOD)

AS/NZS ISO 8124.3:2003 Safety of toys – Migration of certain elements

Saudi Arabia

SSA 765-1994 Playground Equipment Part I: General Safety Requirements

SSA 1063-1994

Toys and General Safety Requirements

SSA 1064-1995 Method of Testing Part 1: Mechanical and Chemical Tests

SSA 1065-1995 Method of Testing Toys Part 2: Flammability

SSA 1322-1997 Low Power Radio Frequency Devices


Safety of Toys:

SS 474 PT. 1:2000 Part 1: Mechanical and Physical Properties

SS 474 PT. 2: 2000 Part 2: Flammability

SS 474 PT. 3: 2000 Part 3: Migration of Certain Elements

SS 474 PT. 4: 2000 Part 4: Experimental Sets for Chemistry and Related Activities

SS 474 PT. 5: 2000 Part 5: Chemical Toys (sets) Other Than Experimental Sets

SS 474 PT. 6: 2000 Part 6: Graphical Symbol for Age Warning labelling

South Africa

SABS ISO 8124-1:2000 Safety of Toys – Part 1: Safety Aspects Related to Mechanical and Physical Properties

SABS ISO 8124-2:1994 Flammability

SABS ISO 8124-3:1997

Migration of Certain Elements


Thai Industrial Standard for Toys TIS 685-2540 Part 1: General Requirements (1997)

Compulsory Stnd.

Part 2: Packages and Labeling (1997)

Part 3: Methods of Test & Analysis(1997)

United States

Mandatory Toy Safety Standard:

Code of Federal Regulations, Commercial Practices 16, Part 1000 to End (16CFR)

Title 15 -Commerce and Foreign Trade Chapter XI – Technology Administration, Department of Commerce Part 1150 – Marking of Toy, Look-alike and Imitation Firearms

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Engineering Test Manual for Rattles

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Engineering Test Manual for Pacifiers

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Labeling Requirements for Art Materials Presenting Chronic Hazards (LHAMA)

U.S. Child Safety Protection Act, Small Parts Hazard Warning Rule and Rules for Reporting Choking Incidents

Age Determination Guidelines: Relating Children’s Ages to Toy Characteristics and Play Behavior (September 2002)

Voluntary Toy Safety Standard:

ASTM F963-07e1 Standard Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety

ASTM F734-84 (89/94) Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Chests

ASTM F1148-97a Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Home Playground Equipment

ASTM F1313-90 Standard Specification for Volatile N-Nitrosamine Levels in Rubber Nipples on Pacifiers

ANSI Z315.1-1996 American National Standard for Tricycles – Safety Requirements

ANSI/UL 696, Ninth Edition Standard for Safety Electric Toys

(Source: ICTI Toy Safety Standards)

In Europe toys must meet the criteria set by the EC Toy Safety Directive (essentially that a toy be safe, which may be addressed by testing to European Standard EN71) in order for them to carry the CE mark. All European Union member states have transposed this directive into law – for example, the UK’s Toy (Safety) Regulations 1995. Trading Standards Officers in the UK, similarly to appropriate authorities in the other EU member states, have the power to immediately demand the withdrawal of a toy product from sale on safety grounds via the RAPEX recall notification system (used for all products subject to European safety legislation). In Canada the government department Health Canada has the responsibility of ensuring product safety, just as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) does in the United States. Australian and New Zealand toy safety standards (following the approximate model of the European Toy Safety Standard) have been adopted by the ISO as International Standard ISO 8124. Toy safety standards are continually updated and modified as the understanding of risks increases and new products are developed.

Appropriate age

Age warning symbol specified in the European standard EN_71-6.

Manufacturers often display information about the intended age of the children who will play with the toy. In the U.S. this label is sometimes mandated by the CPSC, especially for toys which may present a choking hazard for children under three years of age. In most countries the intended age is either shown as a minimum age or as an age range. While one reason for this is the complexity of the toy and how much it will interest or challenge children of different ages, another is to highlight that it may be unsafe for younger children. While a toy might be suitable for children of one age, and thus this is the age recommended on the product, there may be safety hazards associated with use by a lower age group, necessitating a mandatory warning. Some manufacturers also explain the specific dangers next to the advised age (as is mandated by European and International toy safety standards EN71 and ISO 8124 respectively, but not US standard ASTM 963). Some accidents occur when babies play with toys intended for older children.

United States regulations

In August 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed, which restricts the amount of lead and phthalates that may be contained in children’s toys (ages 12 and under). Some observers are of the opinion that this new law imposes the toughest toy-making standard in the world.

European regulations

In Europe, the comprehensive legislation addressing toy safety is the Toy Safety Directive of the European Union (EU), (Council Directive 88/378/EEC). This directive is a list of requirements toys must comply with, and is interpreted in the laws of each member state of the EU in their respective Toy Safety Regulations (e.g.: the UK’s Toys (Safety) Regulations 1995 (Statutory Instrument 1995 No. 204)). This directive has been superseded by Council Directive 2009/48/EC which will apply to toy imports into the EU as of 20th July 2011 except for the chemical requirements of Annex II which apply as of 20th July 2013. During these periods the corresponding requirements of the previous directive will continue to apply. Compliance with both directives leads to a CE Mark, which is a mandatory requirement denoting conformity with all applicable directives. Some items specifically excluded from this legislation are: fashion jewellery for children, Christmas decorations, and sports equipment. Official guidance on the classification of toys in the EU has been provided by the EU Commission. Where products are not classified as toys they will still be governed by the General Product Safety Directive. The toy safety directive provides for harmonised EU-wide standards on physical and mechanical properties, flammability, chemical properties and electrical properties but it should be noted that certain essential safety aspects of the directives are not governed by safety standards e.g. hygiene and radioactivity. The Toys Safety Directive (and subsequent Member State regulations) also calls for the closest applicable national or international standards to be applied where a standard is not specified in the Directive. This interpretive clause is present to ensure that new and innovative toys are safe before being placed on the market. The EN71 Toy Safety Standard has been harmonised by the EC as the default standard which toys must meet. If a toy is found to be unsafe (by breaching one of the specified standards, or by a manifest risk of injury not specified in standards) then the producer (the manufacturer, or the first importer into the EU of the product unit in question) is held to be guilty of an offence under the Toys (Safety) Regulations (or equivalent EU state law). The principle of due diligence (whereby the producer argues that all reasonable steps were taken to ensure the safety of the consumer with regards to the toy) may be used (in the UK) by the producer to avoid prosecution, fines and possible imprisonment. The unsafe toy is withdrawn from the EU market, with all member states’ authorities being notified by means of the RAPEX alert system.

Chinese Regulations

China’s toy industry has been regulated since early 2007 by the expansion of the nation’s compulsory certification system to include toy products. Regulations require a manufacturers to apply for China Compulsory Certification (CCC) from the nation’s Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA). From March 1, toy producers in China have been able to apply to three certification agencies nominated by the CNCA to certify their products. Toys are subject to inspection and certification review. Since June 1, 2007, no toy products without CCCs has been be allowed to leave factories, be sold or be imported into China. It is hoped this measure will mitigate the increasing international pressure on environmental protection, as well as further expand the nation’s toy export market. This increase in scrutiny was introduced before the 2007 Chinese export recalls.

International commerce

International commerce plays a big role in toy safety. In the first four months of 2006, China exported US$4 billion worth of toys. The United States contributed 70 percent of the global market by exporting US$15.2 billion in toys in 2005. The European Union accounts for 75% of the final disposition of these toys. From January 2005 through September 2006, products originating in China were responsible for about 48 percent of product recalls in the U.S., and a similar percentage of notifications in the EU. Lack of process control in sub-contracted vendors has been a contributing factor in recent high-profile cases.

Moves Toward Global Standards

Although an international toy safety standard exists, nations around the world still create their own legislation and standards to address the issue. Current toy safety standards focus on design principles and rely on batch testing of samples to assure safety. As has been seen in the large scale recalls of 2007, sample testing can miss non-conforming product. A design may be conceptually safe, but without control of the production, the design may not be met by the manufacturer. Similarly, the applicable toy safety standards to which a toy is tested by a laboratory may not discover a hazard in a product: in the case of 2007’s magnetic toy recalls and the Bindeez recall, the products in question met the requirements laid down in the applicable safety standard, yet were found to present an inherent risk. Proposed process and quality control standards, similar to the ISO 9000 systems, seek to eliminate production errors and control materials to avoid deviation from the design. The creation of manufacturing quality standards for toys will help ensure consistency of production. Using a continual improvement model, production can be subject to constant scrutiny, rather than assuming the compliance of all production by testing random samples. In October and November 2007, mandatory third party testing was proposed by regulators in the EU and US, to a (possibly new) international standard, requiring a new safety mark. There is no indication that the proposals will address manufacturing control.

Product recalls and safety hazards

The ability to recall a product from the market is a necessary part of any safety legislation. If existing quality and safety checks fail to detect an issue prior to sale, a systematic method of notifying the public and removing potentially hazardous products from the market is needed. Some toys have been discovered to have been unsafe after they have been placed on the market. Before the introduction of safety monitoring organisations the toys were simply stopped being manufactured if any action was taken at all[citation needed], but since then there have been many toys that have been recalled by their manufacturer. In some notable cases the problem has only been found after the injury or even death of a person that purchased the product.



Batches of Bindeez were recalled in November 2007 when, after several children swallowed beads and were adversely affected. Upon ingestion, a chemical used in the product metabolized in the stomach into the so-called “date-rape drug,” GHB. The design called for a different, non-toxic chemical, but this had been substituted with an alternative chemical, which had approximately the same functional properties.

Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kids

The Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were very popular in the 1980s across North America and many parts of Europe. The “Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids” line of dolls was an early 1990s incarnation designed to “eat” plastic snacks. The mechanism was a pair of one-way metal rollers behind a plastic slot and rubber lips, and there were 35 reported incidents where a child’s hair or finger was caught in the mouths. On 31 December 1996, after 700,000 dolls were distributed in the United States in just five months, the CPSC along with manufacturers Mattel announced that they would place warning information labels on all unsold dolls. A week later, in January 1997, CPSC and Mattel announced that all Cabbage Patch Kids Snacktime Kids Dolls were being removed from the market.

Lawn darts

A safety warning given out by the CPSC.

Lawn darts are large, weighted darts intended to be tossed underhand towards a horizontal ground target. On 19 December 1988, all lawn darts were banned from sale in the United States by the Consumer Product Safety Commission after they were responsible for the deaths of three children.


One death and four serious injuries led to the recall of 3.8 million Magnetix building sets in March 2006. The magnets inside the plastic building pieces could fall out and be swallowed or aspirated. MEGA Brands since then has implemented design enhancements to Magnetix, including sonic welding of panels, 100% inspection, gluing magnets into rods, elimination of 3+ labeling in favor of 6+ labeling after it assumed operational control of Rose Art on Jan. 1, 2006. Only safe and improved products are currently on store shelves[citation needed].

Polly Pocket

In November 2006 4.4 million Polly Pocket play sets were recalled by Mattel after children in the United States swallowed loose magnetic parts. The toys had been sold around the world commencing three years previous.


Using the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (http://www.cpsc.gov/LIBRARY/data.html) figures the number of annual reported child toy-related deaths and injuries, compared with CPSC expenditure and total toy sales in the US by year are tabulated below.


Injuries (US $000)

Deaths (age <15)

CPSC toy safety funding

(US$ Millions)

Toy sales

(US $ Billions)








































202 (estimate)

20 (estimate)




no data

no data

no data


It has been contended the rise after 1999 in injuries may be in part due to increased imports from China and a decreasing CPSC budget.[citation needed] Notice that the amount allocated to CPSC for Reducing Children’s Hazards by year has annually decreased since 1999.

mount no longer given but combined with other categories — this is sometimes done to give an agency added flexibility; however, at times this is done to falsely show an increase in funding when there is no way to assess how much will be spent for a specific task.[citation needed]


^ a b c The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, March 2001. “Toy Safety Factsheet”. Accessed 8 January 2007.

^ Department of Trade and Industry, 2000 (using 1998 data). “Home Accident Surveillance System, 22nd Annual report”.

^ European Injury database

^ CSPC, 5 October 2006. “Toy-Related Deaths and Injuries, Calendar Year 2005”. Accessed 10 January 2007.

^ https://webgate.cec.eu.int/idbpa/test/result.jsp

^ “The Toy (Safety) Regulations 1995”. Accessed 7 January 2006.

^ EUROPA – Consumer Affairs – Safe Products

^ Harmonised EU toy safety standards

^ Toy Safety Regulations – BERR

^ “”Bush signs bill banning lead from children’s toys; toughest standard in the world””. Associated Press. 2008-08-14. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-ap-consumer-safety,0,7590962.story. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 

^ Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys

^ Official guidance on the classification of toys

^ People’s Daily Online – Toy industry gets improved regulation

^ China Economic Review, January 2007. “REPORTS / Better safe than sorry”. Accessed 10 January 2007.

^ BBC NEWS | Business | ‘Brand China’ at risk after toy recall

^ Toy Safety Standards Around the World

^ Quality management principles

^ EU, U.S. seek new global toy safety standard | Science & Health | Reuters

^ ANSI: Toy Safety Takes High Priority with Standards Developers

^ http://www.theillustrator.ca/Headlines/China-admits-that-poison-was-in-toys.html

^ KidSource, 31 December 1996. “CPSC and Mattel Announce Warning for Cabbage Patch Doll”. Accessed 5 January 2006.

^ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 6 January 1997. “Mattel and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Announce Voluntary Refund Program for Cabbage Patch Kids & Snacktime Kids Dolls”. Nowadays, some sites in the Internet said that the dolls were “weird” and eat human flesh. They were also said to be one of the 20 things you can’t put under a Christmas tree. Nowadays, some websites on the Internet say that the dolls are evil and eat human flesh. another website, www.thetoyzone.com, said that it’s one of the things that you never want to see on a Christmas tree. Accessed 15 January 2007.

^ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). “CPSC Bans Lawn Darts”. Accessed 5 January 2006.

^ Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 31 March 2006. “Child Death Prompts Replacement Program of Magnetic Building Sets”. Accessed 8 January 2006.

^ The Scotsman, 22 November 2006. “Toy recall over magnet hazard”. Accessed 8 January 2006.

External links

Product safety recalls (in the United Kingdom, not limited to toys) at Trading Standards Institute

Toy Hazard Recalls (in the United States) at the Consumer Product Safety Commission

New EU toy directive published on June, 30th 2009

Categories: Product safety | ToysHidden categories: All articles with unsourced statements | Articles with unsourced statements from November 2007 | Articles with unsourced statements from December 2007

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