Toy safety is of concern to every parent. Amid reports on the use of low quality and toxic materials in certain toy brands in the past few years,parents today stress on the quality of the toys and its impact on their children.
The size of India’s toy industry may touch Rs 13,000 crore by 2015 compared with Rs 7,500 crore in 2012. The industry is growing at a CAGR of 20 per cent,according to an ASSOCHAM report.
So,addressing the issue of toy safety has become a primary concern for the toy industry as a means to instill confidence in buyers,the accreditation and quality-testing certifications definitely help.
Indian standards for toy safety are voluntary in nature and no licence has been granted for this standard. Though Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has formulated an Indian standard prescribing safety requirements for toys relating to certain elements,it has not granted any certification licence. So,the authorities in the country cannot enforce it against manufacturers of toys.
Recently,companies such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) helped ease the toy safety concerns in Indian parents mind. The company,which recently acquired Italian Institute for Toy Safety (IISG),will offer c to toy manufacturers in India.
UL operates in India through offices in Bengaluru and Gurgaon. Similar to the ISO standards or CE mark or BIS Safety Standards,the testing provided by the UL global network of laboratories can prove to be a benchmark of quality for several types of toys including electronic,board games,action figures,dolls,educational toys,construction toys,etc.
Christian Wetterberg,director of external relations at the LEGO Group,was in India recently to attend the 7th Toy Biz at New Delhi. He is also the chairman of ISO Technical Committee 181 ‘Safety of Toys’ and CEN Technical Committee 52 ‘Safety of Toys’. These two committees are responsible for international and European toy safety standards. Wetterberg spoke about the importance of buying suitable and safe toys for children and other safety issues to Financialexpress.com.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Q. In what ways can toys be harmful for kids?
A: Toys that comply with toy safety standards are safe for the intended age group of children. However,toys for older children can be unsafe for babies and toddlers as such toys may contain small parts or balls that present a choking hazard to the children of younger age,or long cords,which can present a strangulation hazard. These parts can have a size and shape that can also present an impaction hazard for babies.
Of course,toys that do not comply with toy safety standards can be harmful in many ways. For example,the products might have sharp points or edges or contain toxic chemicals and include small parts even though they are intended for babies.
Q: What are the toy safety norms in India?
A:The Indian toy safety standards are fully based on the toy safety standards in the ISO 8124-series (published by the International Organization for standardization).
What should parents keep in mind while purchasing toys?
While purchasing a toy,parents should consider the child’s age,abilities and skill level. They should read and follow the age recommendation strictly. Follow instructions carefully for proper toy assembly and use. The toys should be bought from reputable retailers and online outlets. Another important thing to remember is to remove and discard packaging such as plastic bags and small pieces of plastic or other materials. Plastic film coverings in toys can be a choking hazard.
Q: How important is it for parents to read labels before purchasing toys?
A: While choosing to buy toys,it is very important that parents carefully read all labels and warnings on toys. These labels and warnings can include age and safety recommendations and can ensure that a parent does not by mistake give a toy to a child who is too young to play safely with that toy.
Do you think there is a need for product recall in India?
A: In principle,toys that present a serious risk to children should be recalled if they have been sold. This should apply regardless of the country in which the toy has been sold. A recall can prevent children from being injured.
What should parents do if a toy breaks? Should it be discarded,or fixed and used again?
The parent should contact the retailer or the manufacturer of the toy for advice.