Growing awareness about the hazards posed to children by harmful materials and chemicals such as dangerous equipment and harmful paints used in the manufacturing of toys, has led to authorities around the world issuing a series of health and safety regulations that are set to transform the face of the toy industry.
Recent news reports state that the Gulf Standardisation Organisation (GSO) has issued GCC-wide safety and health regulations which toy manufacturers and distributors in the GCC countries must comply with from June 2011.
The regulations set by the GSO, specify the following basic criteria: Toys should not have sharp edges, should not cause suffocation or drowning, must be fire-resistant and must comply with standard chemical levels.
Ghanim Al Ghanim, Managing Director, Glory Horizons, states: “first priority of parents is the safety of the toys with which their children play therefore Toy safety is a major consideration for the professional manufacturer and designer. The standards are in place for the safety of children and as a guideline as to what is acceptable quality for our children’s toys. It is imperative that toys meet stringent guidelines and I am delighted that these are being implemented, not only in Dubai, but throughout the GCC.”
In addition, a new toy safety directive which will come into place in July this year has been issued in the E.U.. This new directive implies a long series of changes for manufacturers and distributors including: the requirement to conduct a risk/hazard assessment, the obligation to provide an EU declaration of conformity, a ban on new compounds and substances and additional restrictions on toys that are packaged and sold with foods.
According to Ahmed Pauwels, Chief Executive Officer of Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organiser of Playworld Middle East, these new regulations will see toy manufacturers worldwide being held to a higher standard. “In order to continue to do business, they will have to ensure that they meet the new health and safety measures,” Pauwels said.
“Toy manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers are now taking these new standards and regulations into consideration in their new lines of toys and games. This increasing stress on hazard-free, safe toys will be reflected at Playworld Middle East, which brings leading manufacturers, suppliers and retailers in touch with a promising and emerging market,” Pauwels said.
The E.U. directive has issued a revised list of harmful material, chemicals, toxic paints and colouring material that are banned from use in toys and games. For certain substances limits have been placed on the amount of nickel tolerable, while certain heavy metals which are particularly toxic, like lead, are no longer to be intentionally used in those parts of toys that are accessible to children.
Back in Dubai, importers and manufacturers that meet the new standards will display the GSO safety sticker on their toys and must register with the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) and have their products tested for safety. ESMA and the Dubai Municipality will be monitoring the toys in Dubai.
Playworld Middle East, which will be held from March 7th to 9th at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, is a dedicated trade platform for toys, games and children’s lifestyle products. The event will feature a range of leading suppliers and manufacturers of safe and hazard-free children’s gear and furniture.