From Reactive to Proactive: Redefining Safety Standards in the Promotional Industry (A Four-Part Series)
• Sharp points/edges: The CPSC’s publication, For Kids’ Sake: Think Toy Safety, details that, by regulation, “new toys intended for children under eight years of age … should be free of sharp glass and metal edges.” However, this is not simply in the toy’s design. If a toy can break apart and expose a child to sharp edges, it could be subject to a recall. Title 16, Volume 2, Part 1500, Sections 48 and 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, found on the organization’s Web site, provides technical requirements as well as testing procedures.
• Flammability: This term is most commonly seen in conjunction with mattresses and sleepwear, however, past CPSC recalls for flammability have included stuffed toys and spray string. The Federal Hazardous Substances Act defines the term “hazardous substance” as, among other things, anything that is flammable or combustible. Unfortunately, various searches on the CPSC’s Web site failed to turn up any testing information or defined regulations where toys are concerned.
• Food safety: Regulations on food, as well as food packaging, are covered by the Food and Drug Administration. To be on the safe side, promotional products suppliers and distributors should consider anything that potentially comes into contact with food (e.g. lunch boxes) as “food packaging,” and thus, default to the FDA first for testing protocol.
… And What’s In Place to Watch You
The CSPC and FDA aside, there are various other watchdogs on product safety and standardization with which promotional products distributors and suppliers should start getting very familiar. Here’s a sampling below:
• ASTM International: A West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania–based independent and voluntary standards development organization. It not only works to create product safety standards to improve the quality of items within the global market, but it also provides resources such as training courses, proficiency testing for laboratories to ensure their procedures are sound, as well as symposia and workshops. Its Web site states: “Participation in ASTM International is open to all with a material interest, anywhere in the world.” For more information, visit www.astm.org.