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Health and Safety - Finishes

  • Certain hardwoods may have an irritating effect on sensitive skin. Manufactured boards such as plywood can become swollen and warped if left outside in the rain. These types of wooden toys need to be regularly treated. Some of these types of manufactured boards may be glued together with certain types of dangerous adhesives. These may be poisonous if swallowed.
  • Applied finishes need to be non-toxic. It is very important to check the manufacturer's instructions before applying a finish to a toy. These finishes should be resistant to flaking since small children have a habit of being very rough with toys.
  • The finish should be resistant to water and generally weather proof if the toys are to be used outside.
    It is very important to check the toxicity of paint before using it. The manufacturer's instruction leaflet, which accompanies the toy, should explain what type of finish has been used.
  • Of course most plastic toys that have been mass-produced is self-finishing. This means that no applied finish needs to be applied.
  • When designing a product. In this case a toy safety must be our most important consideration.
    We must consider the safety of all aspects of the toy including; materials, finishes, choking hazards, finger traps, sharp edges and thickness of pulling ropes.
  • Each year children are harmed through injuries involving toys. This is because some of the toys may have been badly designed or made. Other accidents occur through children falling over toys.
  • The safety laws in Europe are very demanding. A toy sold throughout Europe must comply with the strict safety laws.
  • All toys need to meet British Standards BS 5665 and European Standard EN71.
    They must also conform to the 'Toys Safety Directive' 88/378/EEC and carry a CE mark.
  • The CE mark or standard has three sections: -Physical and mechanical - This refers to all those parts of the toy or game that can be touched or handled. The standard requires that the toy must not stab, cut, mangle or choke a child in any way.
  • Flammability - If a toy is easily set on fire if placed near a radiator, heater or naked flame then the toy does not conform to the standard.
  • Migration of elements - This refers to any part of the toy that may be swallowed or chewed. This also refers to poisonous substances. Small parts must not be allowed to come away from the main body of the toy. If they do they may be swallowed, or may be stuck up the child's nose or ears.
  • It is important to remember that most paints used in the finish of children's toys are non-toxic but in the Victorian times lead paint was used which resulted in children suffering from lead poisoning. Lead was also used to make such Die-cast toys as lead soldiers at this time. This hazard was eventually recognised and replacement paints and materials were eventually used. Die-casting is a process where melted lead is poured into a two-part mould. The lead is left to cool and eventually removed from the mould.
  • There are certain considerations when designing pull- along toys. For children under three years old the cord on the toy cannot be smaller than 1.5mm thick. Any smaller than this and the cord may cut small fingers if the toy gets trapped.
  • Toy cars and trains must not have any sharp edges or points. If the vehicle is made from metal the edges must be rolled over or covered so that they cannot cut and injure.
  • Mechanical toys may have gears and cogs inside them. These mechanisms must be covered in such a way that small fingers cannot touch them. If you poke a pencil or pen into a small gap and are able to touch the mechanisms, the toy is not safe for small children to play with.
  • Any large toy, for example a rocking horse or climbing frame must be stable when in use. These need to have a low centre of gravity preventing them from falling over. See-saws and swings must be fixed to the ground.