Product safety law
Safety regulations for children's products
Children's products such as toys, dummies and nightwear are subject to specific product safety regulations. Others fall under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR).
Toy safety regulations
All toys supplied in the UK must meet the requirements of the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.
The regulations define a toy as 'any product or material designed or clearly intended for use in play by children of less than 14 years of age'. Certain products such as public playground equipment and toy vehicles with combustion engines are exempt.
The law covers a number of safety risks, including:
- Choking risks - toys intended for children under 36 months must not present a choking risk. The test uses the 'small parts cylinder' - toys or parts of toys that can fit entirely inside the cylinder are identified as choking hazards.
- Magnetic parts - magnets which have a flux of more than 50 kG2mm2 (0,5 T2mm2) and fit entirely in the small parts cylinder are not permitted for use in toys.
- Chemicals - there are limits the amounts of certain chemicals that may be contained in materials used for toys. There is also a ban on the use of six phthalates in toys and products for children under three years of age.
Children's toys must come with appropriate instructions and warnings, eg if adult supervision is required.
CE marking on toys
All toys presented for sale in the UK must bear the CE marking and the name and address of the person who first placed the toy on the market.
The CE mark is a declaration by the manufacturer that the product satisfies essential safety requirements and can be sold within the European Union.
Trading standards officers can remove a toy from the market if they believe it to be unsafe.
Testing for toys
If you manufacture a toy in accordance with the regulations - and the standards cover all aspects relating to the toy - then it can be self-certified.
Where the standards do not cover all aspects relating to the toy, a sample must be submitted for type examination by an approved body.
If you import toys you are responsible for their safety, whether or not they already bear a CE mark. You might want to consider having them tested to ensure they are safe.
Other child safety regulations and standards
Products subject to special rules and standards for child safety include:
- Nightwear such as children's nightdresses and dressing gowns must comply with tough performance requirements regarding flammability
- Hood cords on children's outer garments must not pose a strangulation risk
- Bunk beds must not pose a safety risk to children from entrapment
- Prams and pushchairs must conform to safety standards
Toys that are second-hand are covered by the GPSR - rather than the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011. You are not legally required to make sure they are labelled with CE marking - however this is still a good idea. You should ensure second-hand toys are safe, include any appropriate warnings or instructions and have been checked for obvious faults.
If you have a query on child product safety, contact your the environmental health department of your local council, which is responsible for investigating safety legislation matters.
Read about safety regulations that apply to other products and where to go for more information - see products covered by specific safety regulations.