As Christmas approaches and you may be shopping for toys as gifts, it’s important to be aware of toy safety regulations. Although your local authority’s Trading Standard team is responsible for ensuring safe consumer goods and services, they aren’t legally responsible if you purchase a faulty toy. This is why it’s good to familiarise yourself with the regulations, so you know you are only buying safe toys for children. If you are a toy manufacturer, you are required to follow these regulations. If you have found yourself in a situation where these regulations weren’t adhered to, you may need to seek legal representation. St Pauls Chambers barrister, Jeremy Barnett has experience advising as a Trading Standards lawyer in a number of cases concerning product recalls and has also successfully represented toy companies, overturning claims of unsafety.
What are Toy Safety Regulations?
Toy Safety Regulations clearly present all the safety requirements for toys, such as design, construction and risks. Toy manufacturers must comply with the Toys Safety Regulations 2011 and the European Toy Safety Directive 2009 requiring that:
- Toys meet the ‘essential safety requirements’ laid out in regulations
- Are adequately marked to ensure traceability
- Bear the CE mark
- Are accompanied by instructions and warnings where needed
For these purposes, toys are legally defined by Gov.uk as:
‘Products designed or intended (whether or not exclusively) for use in play by children under 14 years old.’
Certain products are excluded from this, including:
- Public playground equipment
- Public automatic playing machines
- Toy vehicles fitted with combustion engines
- Toy steam engines
- Slings and catapults
- Decorative objects
- Sports equipment intended for children over 20kg
- Puzzles with more than 500 pieces
- Guns and pistoles operated by compressed gas (excluding water guns)
- Archery bows over 120cm in length
For the full list of exceptions, please visit this page for guidance.
The Toy Safety Directive 2009 lays down a set of toy safety regulations that must be met before products can be marketed in the EU. The directive addresses the following risks and hazards:
- General health and safety of children and parents or caregivers
- Particular risks including physical and mechanical, flammability, chemical, electrical, hygiene and radioactivity
Who do Toy Safety Regulations Protect?
Toy safety regulations protect both the child with the toy and third parties from danger or injury inflicted by the toy in question. The law requires manufacturers to think about how children could dismantle or misuse their toys and potentially harm themselves or others. The toys should mitigate these risks in the design process to ensure they are doing all they can to adhere to safety regulations.
What Happens to Faulty or Unsafe Toys?
If a toy is found to be faulty or unsafe, it should be reported to the Trading Standards office who can potentially prosecute the supplier if the toy is found to be unsafe. Sometimes, manufacturers become aware of a product fault and issue a recall of products in an attempt to prevent the use of the recalled toys and protect consumers. Although Trading Standards have the power to suspend the sale of a dangerous toy, they rarely do so as the supplier can claim loss of profits from Trading Standards if the product transpires to be safe after all.
If you are a consumer or part of Trading Standards attempting to prosecute a toy manufacturer for breaking child toy safety regulations, Jeremy Barnett is an experienced barrister in Trading Standards cases. Alternatively, if you are a toy supplier who has been accused of selling dangerous products, Jeremy also has experience successfully defending companies and in one case was able to retrieve approximately £100,000 of loss of profits from the Trading Standards.