At every step of toy production, safety is the underlying concern for manufacturers and importers into the United States. Justifiably rigorous standards have been imposed on the U.S. toy industry and, as a result, according to ToyAssociation.org, toys are among the safest products in U.S. homes.
Naturally, like with any developing standard, the current levels of consistent safety and quality didn’t happen overnight. ASTM F963: Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, against which all children’s toys must be measured before they can be legally sold, has had over 30 years of revision and fine-tuning to achieve testing validity in light of ongoing child development research, incident data, and innovations in risk assessment, science and manufacturing techniques.
In order to put child safety first, this document sets a number of strict requirements for toys, including some of the lowest allowable lead content of any national standard around the world. Ever since ASTM F963 was converted from a voluntary standard to a mandatory one in 2009, toy recalls have plummeted. There were 172 recalls in 2008; 50 in 2009; and less than 40 in each year since 2011.
Making sure your products are made as safely as possible is an essential part of your contribution of exciting, adventure-level experiences to children’s play time. Here are some key steps you must follow to safely deliver these promised experiences.
As stated above, ASTM F963 continually sees revisions based on new information about child development; potentially hazardous links between human health and some chemicals, like phthalates; along with quantifiable toy-related injury and fatality statistics. Staying up to date with all relevant research will help inform your toy development and manufacturing decisions, from product design and through every production stage.
For example, one of the most important regulations enforced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is for the banning the use of all “small parts” in toys meant for children under three years of age, in order to prevent choking hazards.
A “small part”, as determined by the standard 16 CFR 1501, is defined as any toy part (either a component part or a piece broken off during durability testing) which fits completely in a cylinder with a slanted depth, from 1” to 2.25”, and a diameter of 1.25”. These dimensions are meant to approximate a fully extended throat of a child under three.
The Small Parts Test Fixture (SPTF), as the cylinder is known, was created and given its dimensions several decades ago. Since those dimensions were determined, studies from organizations like The International Journal of Pediatrics have pointed out that significant increases in average infant size seen per decade could be enough reason to increase the dimensions of the SPTF to better reflect the average dimensions of an infant’s throat.
A truly innovative toy company, aware of such nuances, might decide to place their own, even stricter standards on their products as an added measure against unforeseen accidents.
Before a toy designed for a child aged 14 or younger can be sold in the U.S., the company either producing the toy in America, or importing it into the country, must test their product against ASTM F963.
Once determined compliant by a CPSC-accepted laboratory, the responsible company must produce a Children’s Product Certificate (CPC) to be presented with each batch to the retailer and, when requested, to the CPSC.
Your CPC should include information such as:
For more details and examples of CPC’s, take a look at CPSC’s website.
Although technically consumer products, Children’s Toys and Recreational Equipment should be treated as a matter of Public Trust. Parents place great importance in the toy industry’s desire and ability to conduct their business practices primarily in the interests of child safety. Parents also assume that such product aspects as age-appropriate labeling have been determined only after a great deal of development research and product testing.
Your toy company’s goal is to match every parent’s faith in your product, using every available resource to ensure it will bring no harm to their child. QIMA offers those invaluable resources for every stage of your production, including:
Safely produced children’s toys and equipment don’t happen by accident. Make sure your company’s commitment to toy safety is backed by a Testing Service with its own record of integrity.
Our online platform and mobile application make it easy for you to schedule Toys and Recreational Item testing, and receive your results at any time. Book new tests, view pending orders, and access results from your mobile device. Our online platform provides valuable supply chain insights, including a summary of your QC activity, all of your supplier’s quality stats, industry benchmarking data, and more.
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