Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Toy Safety Testing and CE Marking - A Short Story

My first love is Amigurumi, and I had for some time been idly daydreaming about a woolly empire, with every child in the area running around with one of my creations clasped in his/her hand.

So, you can imagine my panic earlier this year when I found out, almost by chance, that all toys sold within the EU, including handmade toys, must be CE marked, and must comply with the European Toy Safety requirements.

If something looks like it could be played with by someone under 14 it is not enough to simply label it with "this is not a toy". I had visions of bills for testing houses running into thousands, of trading standards officers tut tutting at my trial or, even worse, having to stop making my creatures altogether......

Luckily I found a fantastic community of like minded toy-makers on Facebook and with their support I discovered that (1) it is possible to carry out most of the tests at home and certify your toys yourself (2) it doesn't cost a fortune and (3) it can actually be quite fun, especially if you like burning things and filling in forms...

So, what follows here is a short story about my first journey into the world of CE marking. I have to point out that this is based on my own interpretation of the laws and requirements. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice.

Meet Oscar Elephant:
 A quiet happy chap, he is crocheted from soft non-toxic acrylic yarn with no gappy bits, stuffed with specially bought toy stuffing (no old socks for him!) and has no attachments like buttons or ribbons that might come off in a baby's mouth. I am confident that he is suitable from birth and would happily give him to my baby niece. BUT, how did I prove it?

Twisting:

Stretching:

Poking:


And, mwhahahah....Burning!
Here's a video of the whole thing:

(note - although Oscar did catch fire eventually, videoing it allowed me to measure the rate of spread, which was well below the limit, hurray! I did decide not to put a tail on future models just to be on the safe side)

After all that excitement, I needed one of these! 



The only testing needed for soft stuffed toys that I can't do at home is chemical testing to make sure the yarn doesn't contain any toxic nasties. Luckily, I have lots of new Facebook friends (link below) who organised a kitty to send off samples from popular brands of yarn and spread the cost.

The last essential thing is to label each toy to prove that Without the CE mark and certain other bits of information they are not legal.

Oscar and I definitely earned these two little letters!



Acknowledgements:
For helpful suggestions, organising a kitty for chemical testing and moral support  https://www.facebook.com/groups/cemarkingyarngroup/
For their invaluable self certification advice pack http://www.conformance.co.uk/shop/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=29798
For holding the camera while I set fire to things - my dear hubby and my Dad :-)