New toy safety standard: FEP intervention has positive consequences for publishers

With the entry into force of the new standard, not only are books and components made of paper (below 400g/m2) exempted from the extra mechanical testing; also books and components made of paperboard (above 400 g/m2) are exempted, as long as any easily detachable components are big enough not to present a choking hazard. If paper and paperboard are covered in thick coating (like varnish), the exemption holds as long as they behave like normal paper and paperboard.

Children’s books are subject to the Toy Safety Directive with regard of the safety requirements they need to comply with. In particular, toys (including books) for children up to 3 years of age need to prove safe from risks of choking due to small pieces of them detaching and being swallowed.

FEP lobbied the European Commission, which in 2009 mandated CEN (European Standardisation Committee) to take the absence of risks from books into account in view of the revision of the standards related to the new Toy Safety Directive adopted that year. The mechanical testing (tense and torque) for the choking hazard is CEN is responsible for drafting standards at European level that design, among others, procedures to comply with certain Directives. This is the case with toy safety: the CEN standards provide presumption of conformity with the TSD; in particular, CEN standard EN 71 specifies safety requirement for toys and standard EN 71-1: Mechanical and physical properties includes the tests related to the choking hazard.

The tests described in EN 71-1 used to exempt ‘paper’, defined as having a mass of up to 400 g/m2. Upon the Commission’s mandate, CEN created a Task Group within the Technical Committee in charge of toy safety, which proposed an amendment to exempt all toys made solely of paper from the extra tense and torque tests, regardless of the weight.

The amendment introduced a further exemption from the extra mechanical tests for toys “made entirely of paperboard (provided that they do not fit entirely in the small parts cylinder in their as received or removed state) and don’t apply to discrete paperboard components of toys that are not removable components, provided they do not fit in the small parts cylinder”. Paperboard is defined as “sheet formed by irregularly intervened cellulose fibres with a mass per unit area over 400 g/m2” – thus covering all that is not covered by the term “paper”.

Basically, books and components made of paper (below 400 g/m2) are exempted from the extra mechanical testing; books and components made of paperboard (above 400 g/m2) also as long as any easily detachable components are big enough not to present a choking hazard. If paper and paperboard are covered in thick coating (like varnish), the exemption holds as long as they behave like normal paper and paperboard.

After almost 5 years (normal time for development and adoption of standards), the new EN 71-1 standard was published on 12 March 2014. CEN standards become automatically national standards; CEN members have until 30 June 2014 to announce the existence of the standard and until 30 September 2014 to implement it (by publication of an identical national standard or by endorsement) and to withdraw any national standards conflicting with it. In practical terms toys must comply with the new standard as of 30 September 2014.

FEP is glad to announce this positive result of its activity and is available to provide further details on the subject.