Toys

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Changed on: 29.11.2017
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Child playing with wooden cubes and colorful plastic cubes.

According to the 2011 Regulation on Toys, toys are products that are exclusively or non-exclusively made or intended for the use of children under the age of 14 for the purposes of play. Children are a consumer group that must be protected on a general level and, in particular, children under the age of 3. Regular examinations of toys carried out by AGES show that the majority are safe, but that there are always products on the market that might pose a risk to the health of children.

As a result, the scope of examinations and tests on toys at the AGES Institute for Food Safety Linz (LSL) is very extensive: toys are tested for mechanical and physical properties and flammability, the chemical properties of specific elements (lead, cadmium, mercury, chrome etc.), organotin migration and tests for plasticisers – in particular, banned phthalates, tests for banned azo dyes and pigments and many more substances.  Sensory tests, tests for saliva and perspiration resistance and checks for correct labelling are also within the range of the examinations undertaken.

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Tipps

Spielzeug lieber kindersicher

Jede fünfte Spielzeugprobe hat Sicherheitsmängel. Häufige Problemzonen sind leicht lösbare Kleinteile, zu laute Spielzeughandys oder zu stark schießende Kunststoff-Pistolen. Auch Bakterien in Seifenblasenlösungen kommen immer wieder vor oder technische Mängel bei Fahrzeugen wie z.B. Scootern. Spielsachen und Kinderkostüme dürfen auch nicht leicht entflammbar sein. Ein weiterer Beanstandungsgrund ist der Einsatz verbotener Weichmacher (Phthalate), die oft in den Köpfen von billigen Modepuppen enthalten sind. Kaufen Sie prinzipiell nur Produkte mit CE-Zeichen. Ergebnisse unserer Tests, siehe Untersuchungen.

Spielzeug

Babys und Kleinkinder stecken gerne alles in den Mund. Beim Kauf sind Altersempfehlungen wie z.B. „0M+“ zu beachten. Spielzeug mit dem Hinweis „nicht für Kinder unter drei Jahren geeignet“ darf nicht in die Reichweite der Kleinen gelangen. Im AGES Labor wird geprüft: Beißringe müssen entsprechend dicht und fest sein. Spielsachen dürfen auch keine Chemikalien in gesundheitlich bedenklichen Mengen abgeben, selbst wenn sie stundenlang abgelutscht werden. 

Spielzeug

Viele Spielsachen sind zu laut. Bei akustischem Spielzeug überprüft die AGES daher den Schalldruckpegel. Tönende Spielsachen am besten schon beim Kauf selbst kurz ans Ohr halten um zu sehen, ob die Klänge und Melodien als unangenehm laut empfunden werden. Ist das nicht möglich, sollten Sie zu Hause Spielzeughandys & Co kurz testen, bevor Sie diese Produkte Ihrem Kind zum Spielen überlassen.

Spielzeug

Pfeil- und Bogensets oder Kinderpistolen können gefährlich sein. Vor allem Geschoss-Spielwaren auf Jahrmarktständen haben in der Vergangenheit bei Untersuchungen der AGES oft Mängel gezeigt. Bevor man Kindern solche Spielsachen überlässt, testet man sie am besten selbst: Dröhnen die Ohren, schmerzen die „Schussstellen“, löst sich der Saugnapf? Wenn ja, ist das Spielzeug nicht für ein Kind geeignet.

Spielzeug

Spielen ältere Kinder schon mit kleinteiligen Spielsachen (z. B. Puzzles oder Perlen), dann müssen Bezugspersonen darauf achten, dass die Jüngeren keinen Zugang dazu haben. Beim Spielzeugkauf ist der Hinweis „nicht für Kinder unter 3 Jahren geeignet“ ein wichtiger Hinweis. Bei solchen Spielsachen überprüft die AGES, dass auch keine Kleinteile enthalten bzw. ablösbar sind, die Kinder unter 3 Jahren verschlucken können.

  1. Only buy toys that carry the “CE” mark. The manufacturer guarantees that the toy meets the requirements set out in the Toy Safety Regulation when using this mark.
  2. Always note the warnings and instructions and, in particular, the recommended age. The symbol (0-3), for instance, indicates that the toy is not suitable for children under the age of 3. Additionally, the label must state why this is so (risk of suffocation because of small parts, risk of strangulation because of cords, etc.).
  3. Choose the toy in line with the child’s age and skills – toys that are too simple are boring, toys that are too sophisticated create frustration.
  4. 4. Test toys for children under the age of 3 for any detachable parts. Pull the eyes on a cuddly toy, for example, before you hand it to the child to play with. Small children like to put things into their mouths and, thus, small parts that can be detached easily from the toy represent a suffocation risk.  
  5. 5. Do not extend the cords of pulling toys. This could pose a strangulation risk in extreme instances.  
  6. Put toy mobile phones to your ear – if you find the sounds and melodies uncomfortably loud, they could also be dangerous for your child. 
  7. Does your child like to play with bows and arrows or similar toys? Many such toy sets contain arrows with suction cups. Check whether these suction cups are fixed tightly to the arrows. Suction cups that can be taken off easily could pose a suffocation risk, if a child gets them in his or her mouth. The arrow can be taken out, but the suction cup could remain stuck in the child’s throat. 
  8. Inflatable water toys are great fun for children and encourage them to move around. However, always keep in mind that they are toys and not swimming aids. 
  9. Plastic toys exposed to light and weather age faster. Always check whether your child’s sand or beach toys are still in order, for instance. Old, brittle plastic can break easily and leave sharp edges that could cause injuries. Additionally, smaller parts can break off representing a suffocation risk. 
  10. Make sure children do not play with unsuitable toys that belong to their older siblings and never forget about proper supervision.

Untersuchungen

About 500 samples are taken from toys and examined at the LSL every year. The tests have shown that the physical and mechanical properties of toys could pose a threat to the health of children, in particular.

It is well known that babies and toddlers are likely to put everything in their mouths. As a result, toys for children under the age of 3 must not contain any parts that could be swallowed, thus, posing the risk of suffocation. Such toys or any detachable toy parts must not fit into a specifically standardised test cylinder that simulates a child’s pharynx, according to EN 71 (European Standard “Toy Safety”).

Toys for children under the age of 3 must comply with several other requirements that are tested on a routine basis. Cords may only have a certain length so that small children cannot strangle themselves; the padding of cuddly toys must not contain any parts that could cause injuries; cooling teething rings must be sufficiently firm and sealed properly so they do not leak when bitten; toys may not contain any small balls or suction cups that could pose the danger of suffocation; and so on.

Toys for children over the age of 3 must meet many different requirements to be considered safe, depending on the respective toy category. Toys for slightly older children may contain small parts, but must state clearly and appropriately on the label that they are not suitable for children under the age of 3 and contain a brief description of the hazards that are the reason for this limitation. Projectile toys (e.g. toy guns) are examined to see whether the toy conforms to kinetic energy limits. If the kinetic energy level is too high, there is a risk of injury. This could result in eye injuries, for instance, when children shoot at each other with small plastic balls. Projectile toys using arrows with suction cups are examined specifically to see whether the cups are fixed tight enough to the projectile, as loose suction cups could pose a suffocation risk.

Moreover, the sound pressure level is tested in acoustic toys – such as toy mobiles – as toys that produce too much noise could cause hearing damage. Toys intended to carry the weight of the child – such as toy bikes and scooters – are tested for their stability and assembly. They must be designed in a way that children cannot crush their fingers between the moving parts of the toy. Furthermore, monitoring also involves meeting the general requirements valid for toys that are in place. This includes examinations to see that toys do not have any sharp edges or points that could cause injuries.

The toys are also tested for flammability, in addition to physical and mechanical property tests. Children’s carnival costumes, for example, must be completely non-flammable or may only burn at a rate that allows the child enough time to take off the costume in an emergency should the costume have caught fire, without putting the child in danger of suffering burns.

Consumers are informed about such dangerous toys through the media via product warnings. Should toys pose a serious risk and other Member States also be affected, there will be a European-wide notification in the so-called RAPEX system (Rapid Exchange of Information System – the EU’s rapid warning system for all dangerous consumer goods, with the exception of foods and medication and medicinal products).

See Service Product Warnings.

Rechtliches

Toys are objects of use and, thus, are subject to the Austrian Food Safety and Consumer Protection Act (LMSVG). The LMSVG states that it is prohibited to place items on the market that are harmful to human health or are not suited for their intended use or do not conform with the special regulations.

Toys are regulated in detail in Spielzeugverordnung 2011 (Toy Safety Regulation 2011), which is based on the European Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EG. According to Toy Safety Regulation 2011, toys may only be placed on the market if they meet the general safety requirements, according to which they must not endanger the safety or health of the user or third parties when used for their intended or foreseen purposes in line with typical children’s behaviour. Moreover, toys must be labelled with the appropriate warnings and instructions and must carry the “CE marking”. The harmonised European Standards contain many detailed requirements, while the Toy Safety Regulation provides the framework background. For toys, this is mainly EN 71 “Safety of Toys”. This standard consists of parts 1 to 14 at present. Parts 1 to 3 are relevant for all toys. Part 1 deals with physical and mechanical properties, part 2 with flammability and part 3 with the migration of certain elements. Other parts address specific toys, for example, such as part 7, which deals with finger paint.

In terms of chemical requirements, there are also limits in the European Regulation on Chemicals REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), in addition to those defined in the Toy Safety Regulation (such as migration limits for elements, limits for allergenic fragrances and nitrosamines).  There are also defined limits for phthalates, azo dyes and pigments, benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Requirements in terms of the labelling of toys are defined in the Spielzeugkennzeichnungs-verordnung (Toy Labelling Regulation).

Jahrmarkt-Spielzeug

AGES carries out regular campaigns on behalf of the Health Ministry on the subject of “Examinations of Cheap Toys from Funfairs”, which provide an alarming picture. In 2008, 75 percent of the samples taken had shortcomings or were defective and 12 percent of the samples taken exposed children to such serious risk that they were classed as “damaging to health”.  In 2010, the situation was still similar with 50 percent of all the samples classed as faulty and 15 percent classed as “damaging to health”. There was a slight improvement in 2012, with 57 percent of all the samples taken classed as faulty and 7 percent as “damaging to health”. The 2014 campaign was carried out until the end of the year to collect samples from Christmas markets. A slight improvement is expected compared to previous years’ results. 

Where are the dangers and how can parents protect their children?

It has been shown that there are two categories of toys that have especially high levels of potential risk: one group is toys for children under the age of 3. The second toy category that always repeatedly leads to complaints is projectiles.

Toys for children under the age of 3: Children in this age group put everything in their mouths and lick, suck and bite them. Some of the products on display at funfairs have already had a long shelf life and are often displayed in the open and, thus, are exposed to UV rays. The properties of plastics change in such conditions and it becomes brittle. This increases the probability of small parts breaking off the toy and being swallowed.   

Projectile toys and toy weapons: Many of the products – often called “soft guns” – are not recommended for children under the age of 18 because of their high levels of kinetic energy. This information on the packaging is, however, often ignored and the products are sold to children under the age of 14. In 2013, the Soft Air Gun Regulation (Softairwaffenverordnung) was adopted forbidding the sale of soft air weapons or soft guns to persons under the age of 18 at markets and similar events.   

Please note the tips given on toy safety.

Further information on children’s toys can be found on the homepage of the Federal Ministry of Health, at VerbraucherInnengesundheit/Spielzeug.

Geschoßspielzeug

Projectile Toys

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Projectile toy with plastic balls and suction cup projectiles
Projectile toy with plastic balls and suction cup projectiles

The AGES Institute for Food Safety Linz (LSL) has undertaken special examinations of different kinds of projectile toys, in addition to regular planned sampling campaigns during the last few years. The defect rate in this category of toys was shockingly high, particularly in the years 2010 and 2011 (about 30 percent of the samples had faults and 10 percent of the samples had severe faults, leading to them being classed as “hazardous to health”). Although the situation visibly improved in 2013 and 2014, there are still a number of projectile toys that do not meet the requirements set out in the Toy Safety Regulation and Standard EN17 on the “safety of toys”. 
 
The following hazards were identified depending on the type of projectile toy in use:

  • External injuries caused by high levels of kinetic energy 
  • Suffocation caused by easy-to-remove suction Cups 
  • Hearing damage caused by loud sound levels

There have constantly been toys, and particularly toy pistols that typically use small plastic pellets as munitions, which produce far too high levels of kinetic energy. 

There is the danger of external injuries caused when children shoot at each other during play, whether deliberately or not. Eyes are particularly vulnerable. It can be that children shoot each other in the mouth with projectile toys and so all suction-cup projectiles must have a minimum length to ensure that the object can be removed from the throat easily should this occur. It is equally important that the suction cups used in such munitions cannot be removed easily. If not, there is a danger that a suction cup could remain in the throat when removing a projectile and result in further risk of suffocation. Projectile toys are expected to make a “bang”. However, the sound level of these toys is so high that there is a danger of children losing their hearing.

There has been a drop in complaints about projectile pistols. The 2013 Soft Air Gun Regulation (Softairwaffenverordnung) that bans the sale of soft air guns or soft guns to persons under the age of 18 also at markets and similar events seems to be working here. In the past, such soft guns and similar products were often sold openly to children at markets and funfairs as “normal toys.”  This particular category of projectile toy often produces extremely high levels of kinetic energy.  

Parents and all supervisory persons can only be advised to test the projectile toy themselves before giving them to a child: shoot it once, allow it to be shot at you once (e.g. at your underarm), pull on the suction cups. Did the bang make your ears ring, does the spot where the projectile hit you still hurt and did the suction cup come off? If yes, the toy is not fit for children. Please see 10 tips for toy safety.

Information für Hersteller

Information for Manufacturers

A producer is a natural or legal person that produces a toy or allows it to be developed or made and the toy is sold on the market under the producer’s name or a specific brand.

Manufacturer’s Obligations

  • Guarantee that the toy is safe (that it complies with the Toy Regulation of 2011) 
  • Conduct safety and conformity Evaluations 
  • Produce and store technical documentation (10 years)
  • Display and store  EC Conformity Declaration (10 years) 
  • Affix CE mark 
  • Ensure conformity for mass production 
  • Take all necessary samples and conduct all necessary tests 
  • Detail all complaints, non-conforming products and producer recalls 
  • Affix all identification marks 
  • Add product instructions and safety Information 
  • Have all information and documentation available for authorities making reasoned requests 
  • Cooperate with authorities to prevent hazards

Bringing a Product to Market

The following steps must be followed when placing a new toy on the market, regardless of the amounts in which it should be sold:

  • Find out if the product is actually a toy (some toys fall into a grey area – e.g. scooters that can be toys or sports equipment) 
  • Establish which age group the toy is appropriate for. For toys for children under the age of 3 such as baby rattles, teething rings, soft toys etc. additional requirements may have to be taken into account in regards to physical properties 
  • Carry out safety tests – i.e. create a list of which chemical, physical/mechanical, electronic, flammability, hygiene and radioactive hazards could occur and how high the level of exposure could be. 

    For example, soft toys:
    • Chemical hazards: e.g. azo dye substances in materials, exposure level – high (intensive skin contact) 
    • Physical/mechanical hazards: e.g. removable small parts (sown-on eyes), exposure  level -- high 
    • Electronic hazards; none (there can be soft, cuddly toys that are battery driven and can make animal noises )
    • Flammability hazards: materials can catch fire, exposure – medium 
    • Hygiene hazards: materials can get dirty – medium 
    • Radioactive hazards: None 
  • The conformity evaluation required, i.e. the evidence that the toy complies with the requirements of the Toy Safety Regulation and the hazards identified are “under control”.   There are a number of options: normally, the manufacturer checks whether the toy meets the harmonised standards (this is an internal production control). The requirements for toys are detailed in EN 71 (“Safety of Toys”), which consists of parts 1 to 14. Part 1 deals with physical/mechanical properties and also contains special requirements for toys for children under the age of 3. If the producer does not follow these norms or the toy displays potential hazards not covered under the harmonised standards, then an EC Construction Plan examination must be carried out by a notified body.  

Tips for Small Companies: Information on Materials Collected from Suppliers

Norms can only be purchased. Laboratory tests for all hazards, especially those related to chemical properties, are costly. If using soft toy materials in different colours, each of these colours must be tested for azo dyes, heavy metals etc. It is, therefore, recommended that small firms get certification from their suppliers for all the materials used for such “simple” toys as soft, cuddly toys to prove that the company is following the Toy Safety Regulation of 2011 in regards to the chemical properties of their products. All materials must be taken into consideration here: not just the materials used, but also threads and fillings. Afterwards, the finished toy must be checked in line with EN71-1 (mechanical/physical properties) and BN 71-2 (flammability).    

If it can be proven that all requirements are fulfilled, then

  • Affix CE marks
  • Affix all other labelling elements (as required: warnings, instructions, name and contact details of producer, identification marks e.g. batch numbers) 
  • Print and store EC conformity declaration (how this show look can be found in Annex 3 of the Toy Regulation 2011) 
  • Print and store technical documentation (see Annex 4 of the Toy Regulation 2011)

Information and Examinations

The examples given are only examples and are not a full list of all possible procedures. The extent of the tests necessary depends on each toy individually. We would be happy to consult you, if you require more information. 

Toy examinations are carried out by AGES and other different institutions: List of Institutions. Contact our institute in Linz for further information. Meetings can be arranged on +43 50 555-41730 and Contact.

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