ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Playing it Safe this Holiday Season with Toy Safety Tips and Standards


New York, Nov 28, 2006

Thanksgiving turkey now a hazy dream, the holiday retail blitz has officially begun. Long, trailing lines and bustling crowds are a daily scene at shops and stores across the nation, as consumers rush to be the first to hold the latest and most-coveted toys and gadgets in hand.

An estimated 2.6 billion toys, including electronic toys and video games, are sold in the United States annually. Three to five thousand of these are products that are entering the market for the very first time. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), toy safety remains an important concern; more than 152,000 children were treated for toy-related injuries in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2005 alone.

To raise awareness about “playing it safe,” ANSI members Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have partnered to offer parents, grandparents and other gift-givers important toy safety tips this holiday season. When shopping for toys, especially ones run on electrical power, NFPA and UL advise looking for markings that indicate that a product has been tested by an independent, third-party product safety and certification organization. For example, a UL mark signifies that samples of a toy have been tested (dropped, pulled, tugged at, and generally torn apart) by UL engineering staff and found to comply with appropriate safety requirements. Consumers should also be on the lookout for media broadcasts and newspaper reports for information on toy recalls. Additional product safety information and a list of product recalls is maintained on the CPSC website (www.cpsc.gov).

Standards: the Building Blocks of Toy Safety
Toy safety has long been a priority of another ANSI member and accredited standards developer, the Toy Industry Association (TIA), which has served at the forefront of efforts to ensure the safety of children at play for more than six decades. Together with the U.S. government, TIA drafted in 1971 the first comprehensive voluntary toy safety standard. The document was republished by ASTM International as ASTM F963—Consumer Safety Specification on Toy Safety, and later earned recognition as an American National Standard.

The latest version of the standard sets down nationally recognized safety requirements and test methods for toys intended for use by children under the age of fourteen. It is widely used across the industry to ensure the safety of a wide range of children’s playthings, and to supplement the mandatory federal requirements listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, Commercial Practices 16. Together, the two documents contain more than 100 tests and requirements from use-and-abuse toxicity and flammability tests to specifications for surface-coating materials, small parts, sharp edges and points.

ASTM F963 is updated regularly by ASTM F15.22 on Toy Safety, a subcommittee of ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products. Updates, revisions and additions to the standard reflect developments in product technology, occupational data and injury statistics. The most recent additions address battery-operated toys, items with spherical ends (which may pose asphyxiation hazards), hemispheric- shaped objects (which could contribute to the risk of suffocation), and acoustic limits (to minimize the risk of hearing impairment).

Gadgets for the Young-at Heart
Video games and other more tech-savvy toys are expected to make a strong showing under holiday trees this year. For those purchasing gifts for older children (or adults young-at-heart), an International Standard developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) provides safety guidelines for a wide range of electrically run gadgets and machines. IEC 60335-2-82 Ed. 2.0 b:2005, Household and similar electrical appliances - Safety - Part 2-82: Particular requirements for amusement machines and personal service machines, deals with the safety of popular amusement machines such as video games, driving simulators, laser shooting appliances and gaming machines, as well as time-honored electric billiard tables, bowling machines and dartboards.

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