Safety of toys – what do standards say?

By Barbara Kamusiime

The global toy market saw $80.8 billion in revenue over the past decade ( This industry, while dominated by a few major players, is comprised of numerous companies seeking to produce items oriented towards children. This therefore presents a need for manufacturers to assure the safety of their products.

According to the Uganda Bureau of statistics, the proportion of children below the age of 15 in 2015 was 48.1% and these are most likely to be consumers of toys.  It is against this background that UNBS developed a Toy Standard to protect the young ones from using toys that are likely to harm them or have a negative impact on their health.

A toy is designed or clearly intended for use in play by children under 14 years of age.

Made for play, children’s toys are common with potential hidden hazards ranging from sharp edges to cords or small parts, to name a few. The modest playing toy can cause great harm if not designed and manufactured correctly.

The Uganda standard (US ISO 8124) Safety of toys part one states the – “Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties, which defines requirements and test methods for toys intended for use by children under 14 years of age, and covers a reasonable lifespan of the toy.

It specifies acceptable criteria for structural characteristics of toys, such as shape, size and contour, as well as aspects particular to certain toys such as tip angles for ride-on toys.

The standard also covers a wide range of potential risks, such as sharp points, small parts and maximum kinetic energy values for projectiles.

The standards includes warning requirements and/or instructions for use be given on certain toys or their packaging. Due to linguistic problems which may occur in different countries, the wording of these warnings and instructions is not specified but given as general information.

It also specifies test methods for toys intended for use by children in various age groups from birth to 14 years. The test requirements vary according to the age group for which a particular toy is intended. The requirements for a particular age group reflect the nature of the hazards and the expected mental and/or physical abilities of a child to cope with them.

Additional details about the safety of Toys can be obtained from Uganda Standards; US ISO 8124-1: 2014.

The Writer is a Senior Public Relations Officer at Uganda National Bureau of Standards

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