ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards for Fun and Games: December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month

New York, Dec 02, 2008

With Thanksgiving dinner now a distant memory, many parents, relatives, and friends have begun to prepare for the upcoming holiday season by purchasing toys for the children in their lives. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and with the help of standards, consumers can be assured that the toys they purchase are safe for little hands.

One standard for toy safety was recently made mandatory in the U.S. with the signing of HR 4040, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). ASTM F963-07e1, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, found in Section 106 of the legislation, is an American National Standard relating to possible hazards in toys that may not be readily apparent and may be encountered during normal, intended use or reasonably foreseeable abuse. The standard was developed by ASTM International, a member and audited designator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). [see related article]

Technological developments in the past few decades may have led to changes in the lives of adults, but they’ve also contributed to new and exciting products for children. From toys for toddlers with screens, joysticks, and keyboards to realistic dollhouses with working light fixtures, many of the most desired toys have an electric component. IEC 62115 Ed. 1.1 b:2006, Electric toys – Safety, addresses the safety of toys that have at least one function dependent on electricity. Examples of toys within the scope of this standard are constructional sets, experimental sets, functional toys (having a function similar to an appliance or installation used by adults), and video toys.

IEC 62115 was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 61, Safety of household and similar electrical appliances. Secretariat duties for TC 61 are performed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), an ANSI member and audited designator. UL also serves as the U.S. National Committee (USNC)-approved U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to TC 61, carrying U.S. positions forward to the committee.

Whether hi-tech or old-fashioned, all sorts of play things are covered by a set of international standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). ISO 8124, Safety of toys, consists of three parts that provide guidelines for several aspects of toy safety:

  • ISO 8124-1:2000, Safety of toys - Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties
  • ISO 8124-2:2007, Safety of toys - Part 2: Flammability
  • ISO 8124-3:1997, Safety of toys -- Part 3: Migration of certain elements

These documents were developed by ISO/TC 181, Safety of toys. The ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG Administrator to this TC is the Toy Industry Association (TIA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

But standards are only one side of the toy safety coin. Reliable conformity assessment practices assure consumers that they can have confidence in the safety and quality of the toys they buy.

The Toy Safety Certification Program (TSCP) was created in 2007 by TIA with the help of ANSI, consumer advocates, conformity assessment experts, toy companies, and retailers to improve toy safety, restore consumer confidence, and implement the CPSIA, a new federal law requiring that manufacturers have their toy products tested by a qualified lab and certify that they meet safety standards.

In September of 2008, ANSI and the TIA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in support of the accreditation program of the TCSP. Under the MoU, ANSI’s assessment of the competence of product certification bodies will be determined by requirements in the international standard ISO/IEC Guide 65, General Requirements for Bodies Operating Product Certification Systems, the associated International Accreditation Forum Guidance Document, and program requirements for the TSCP. [see related article]

During Safe Toys and Gifts Month and all year long, standards and conformity assessment programs help to assure the safety of toys for boys and girls nationwide.