There are specific rules in Ireland and the EU to protect children from playing with unsafe toys.
Specific rules also exist for ensuring the safety of children’s products, for example, baby prams, pushchairs, pacifiers (soothers), cots and clothing. Equipment such as swings, slides, pencils and pens are also regulated. Most of these rules are based on the standards which are developed by the European Committee for standardisation (CEN). The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) develops standards governing safety, quality, design, performance of specific products for sale in Ireland.
Since 1990, legislation has been in place in Ireland which prohibits the placing of toys on the market unless they meet minimum safety requirements.
The European Communities (Safety of Toys) Regulations 2011 (SI 14/2011) (as amended) transposed Directive 2009/48/EC (as amended) on the safety of toys. The Directive prohibits the placing of toys on the market unless they are safe, and updates the safety requirements. It also sets down a requirement to ensure risk assessment is carried out for toys.
Toys placed on the market prior to the making of these Regulations are covered by SI 32/1990 which sets out the safety requirements for toys applicable.
In addition, EU rules state that any product offered for sale in the EU that conforms with certain specific health, safety and environmental protection standards must carry a CE mark. The CE mark is a declaration by the producer that the product conforms to all the applicable EU legislation. Read about the the CE mark.
What is a toy?
A toy is defined in the law as a product intended for children aged under 14 to play with. It does not include products listed in Annex I of Directive 2009/48/EC (pdf)
Equipment children may use (such as sports equipment) that are not toys come under the General Product Safety Directive.
General guidelines for buying safe products for children
The following are some basic guidelines when buying safe products and toys. Items should be:
- strong and resilient (i.e., should not break easily)
- made of materials that do not burn easily
- made of non-toxic materials
- carry the CE mark
A child’s product that contains detachable or small parts should be marked as unsuitable for children under 36 months. Any specific hazard that exists should be drawn to your attention.
Bicycles and go-karts etc. should have adequate brakes and guards for chains and other moving parts. If being used on public roads, bicycles should carry adequate lighting.
Safe use of children’s products
It is common sense to ensure that toys are used safely. Toys with a CE mark indicate that they are safe to use as they were intended to be. That is, for the age group they are considered appropriate to. For example, a toy suitable for a ten year old can be dangerous if played with by a three year old.
Electrical toys should carry the CE mark to ensure compliance with EU safety standards. No electrical toy should be sold (or given out for free) that exceeds 24 volts. Electrical items (such as lamps etc.) exist that are intended to appeal to children but these are most definitely NOT toys and should carry a label accordingly worded. All parts of the toy should be properly insulated to prevent a risk of contact with live wires. Safety instructions on electrical toys should be clear and precise and should be heeded by consumers.
Toys and children’s product labelling
The following information should appear on the packaging or the product itself
- The CE mark
- Name, trade mark and address of the manufacturer, his agent or importer within the European Union
- Instructions for use, if any
- Advice on the safe use of the toy (such as ‘unsuitable for children under 36 months’)
The Irish technical standard mark can be placed on the toy along with the CE mark. This indicates that the toy complies with all safety regulations. The most common Standard for Toys is called IS EN 71.