If You Sell Promotional Products, Learn to Read a Test Report
I know, I know. Boring technical jargon. It's all true.
But unless you have someone else in your company to take care of this for you, you can't afford not to know how to read a test report.
There's an easy way and a hard way. I'll show you the easy way. The hard way is to find out that the product you thought was compliant isn't compliant and that the official looking test report you've got in your file is out of date, not relevant to your specific product or doesn't include all the tests you need.
I know. I learned the hard way.
Back in 2007, when the testing mania began and before we started ordering our own tests, we asked all of our factories to send us test reports for the products in our line. This was a year before CPSIA, before phthalate limits, before lead-in-substrate limits, and before mandatory ASTM F963. The only federal lead restriction was the 600 ppm limit for lead in paint or surface coating—the one that tripped up Mattel with their Barbie Doll recalls.
We received plenty of official looking reports and most of them from well-known testing labs. They referred to tests and codes like EN71, RoHS and 16 CFR 1303. Some included photographs, some did not. We dutifully filed them away and provided them on request to any distributor who asked—the ones doing business with corporations who have really knowledgable compliance people. And that's when the education began—when those people saw the holes in some of the reports we provided.
"This report is dated 2005. Do you have a current one?" "The product in this report is a tumbler but it doesn't look anything like one than we're buying." "EN71 is for Europe. Do you have a test report for the US standard ASTM F963?"