When manufacturing and selling a product there are various responsibilities that need to be taken into account as the law in this area was created to protect the consumer and not the manufacturer.In the 1980’s the production of goods was based on United Kingdom’s standards, which are very high. United Kingdom’s standards were construction standards, which mean that they gave directions on how the goods must be produced. The modern notion which is also used in European Union standards is to pass a test after the goods were produced.
That means that the manufacturer can produce the goods, the way he wishes, but at the end he will have to pass a safety test as well as getting a certificate that the product has passed that test.The European Union standards are set to the level at which the poorest countries can meet; therefore there are limitations on their regulations. So where there are no EU’s regulations on an issue, the manufacturer will have to follow the UK’s standards, if he wishes to market his products within the country.Today, there is an EEC1 proposal with the DTI2 being very much in favour of. The proposal suggests that there should be a general duty to “trade fairly”. If this proposal is implemented it must be given a very specific content, which will include either sending people back to the perfect market model, or setting a standard which if exceeded the manufacturer will be prosecuted. This proposal is likely to be implemented within the next five years.It would be unrealistic to say that all the above safety measures are not costly.
At the same time it is pretty much reasonable that as a company your aim is to minimize costs and maximize profits. The proactive attitude calls for compliance with the EU and British Standards from the earlier stages of production. This in the long run, by minimizing the risk of future legal complications, is likely to save you both time and money.i.
Soft toys (toys)It is of general understanding that soft – toys belong to the broader category of toys. So in order to examine soft toys in depth, we will first have to establish what toy means.According to the Toy Safety Regulation 1995, which implemented the European Directive on Toy Safety, a toy has been defined as “any product or material which is clearly intended for play by a child under the age of fourteen years”.ii. Safety first-What is a safe product?Manufacturing a safe product is an issue of global concern. This becomes more of a problem within the toy industry where consumers are children. That means a customer more demanding, more sensitive and dangerous when it comes to the use of the product.
So what do we mean by “safe” product?According to the General product Safety Regulation (GPSR) 1994, a safe product is ” any product which under normal or reasonable foreseeable conditions of use, including duration, does not present any risk or only the minimum risk compatible with the product’s use, considered as acceptable and consisted with a high level of protection for the safety and health of persons”.In other words, safe is any product, which if used under reasonable situations, will not exceed expected levels of danger. Therefore specific requirements need to be met by manufacturers of soft toys.i. General Requirements for toysThe Toy (Safety) Regulations 1995 constitute an active legislation which has created a standard of safety requirements for toys being supplied and circulated inside the Community. It imposes a mutual target for the member states to protect children from negligent manufacturers who supply or willing to supply un-safe toys, using the following mechanisms:Firstly it places the requirement for every product in the “open market” to bear the EC marking, which do not constitute a pass safety or quality mark. This serves as an indication for the responsible authorities that the specific goods are intended for sale within the Community as well as a proof of compliance of the manufacturer with the safety requirements.
Even though, manufacturers who might use the EC mark as a proof without complying are liable and legal proceedings will be taken against them.Secondly, information and risk warnings must be provided by the manufacturer in respect of the:(i) Age suitability of a toy(ii) Instructions, frequency of maintenance and inspection on activity toys(iii) Need for supervision(iv) Need of protective clothing or equipmentFurther compliance with the British Standards (5665) will need to be achieved where the manufacturer is targeting the UK market.ii.
Specific Requirements for soft toysAccording to the European, and British standards and the Toy Safety Regulations 1995 it is essential for the manufacturer of a soft toy to comply with the following requirements:1. All toys must meet hygiene and cleanliness requirements to prevent the risk of infection, sickness and contamination. So when manufacturing a soft toy the use of clean new materials would be advisable.2. Facial features (if they are hard) must resist a pull of 10kg (just over 20lbs or ten packs of sugar) for at least 10 seconds. Eyes and noses with safety locking washers could also be used.3.
Filling materials should be designed for stuffing toys and should not be flammable (they must comply with BSEN 71-1:1998 Part 2). Knitted toys though present a particular problem. It would appear that most mixtures, with high wool content, will pass the flammability test when used over the proper filling material.4. Must be sufficiently strong to withstand the stresses normally subjected to.5.
Must be designed and constructed so that any edges, protrusions, cords, fastening or movable parts do not inflict injury.6. Toys and component parts intended for use by children under thirty – six months shall be of such dimension to prevent their being swallowed or inhaled.In P;M Suppliers (Essex) Ltd v. Walsall MBC (1994),easily removable clumps of hair from a “shaggy dog” toy imported in the EC Market constituted a breach of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 s.10 (2).
P;M successfully questioned the definition of what is regarded as a “reasonably safe” soft toy within section 10 (2) (b) of the CPA 1987. This quashed the previous decision by the MBC authority, creating doubt and calling for review of the definition.7. Soft toys and their packaging must not present a strangulation or suffocation risk.8. Toys used in water and capable of supporting a child shall be designed to minimize risk from loss of buoyancy.
9. The use of a list of chemicals3 in the production process should satisfy the prescribed quantity levels. The Commission Decision 1999/815/EC of 7 December 1999 prohibits to introduce on the market toys intended to be placed in the mouth by children under the age of three years, made of soft PVC containing one or more substances of phthalatesIt would therefore be advisable for manufacturers to keep sufficient records of materials used, production methods and test reports, to show that the toy is made in accordance with approved safety requirements.The concept of a “Competent Authority” which is defined in the 1996 Regulation comes up as an objective safeguard. It is a “body responsible for requiring and receiving information, granting and refusing requests for confidentiality pursuant”.In the United Kingdom this authority embodies the Secretary of the State and approved enforcement authorities.
The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 1987 is the main statute in the United Kingdom regarding product safety. Its intention rests in protecting consumers from products which do not meet the required standards.Specifically, Part II of the Act strictly prohibits unsafe products to enter the market under which the Secretary of the State has the power to create safety regulations concerning the manufacturing and supplying process of the goods, in order to establish a high standard of safe products for consumers.In addition, the Secretary of the State has the flexibility of acting fast against manufactures who do not comply with these regulations. In such a case there are two ways he can act.