Safety Marks: What Do They Mean?

  • By: The DIG for Kids
  • Time to read: 3 min.
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Your child is protected by safety laws that require that everything sold is reasonably safe. Manufacturers, importers and Trading Standards Officers together spend millions of pounds each year making sure new products are safe. Look for these signs that show goods are up to safety standards.

British and European Standards

These are drawn up by manufacturers, safety experts and others to establish minimum quality standards. By law, goods should pass the safety sections of these standards. They are often marked on the packaging of the product, and in some cases are on the product itself.

  • Child Safety Seats: ECE R44.03
  • Children’s Toys: EN71
  • Cots: EN716
  • Fireguards: BS 6539
  • Highchairs: BS 14988-1
  • Pushchairs and Prams: BS 7409
  • Safety Gates: EN1930
  • Smoke Alarms: BS 5446

The Kitemark

When you see a toy or product with a Kitemark this means that the British Standards Institution has independently tested it, has confirmed that the product conforms to the relevant British Standard, and has issued a BSI license to the company to use the Kitemark. The manufacturer pays for this service and their product is tested, and the manufacturing process is assessed, at regular intervals.

The Kitemark is the symbol that gives consumers the assurance that the product they have bought really does conform to the appropriate British Standard and should therefore be safe and reliable.

Manufacturers are not legally required to display a Kitemark on their products, but many products such as those listed above with a BS reference will most likely have them displayed.

The CE Mark

This symbol, the CE Mark, together with the name and address of the first supplier, was required by law to appear on all toys placed on the market in the European Union on and after January 1990, to show that it passes all European standards.

It is not a European safety marker or quality symbol. Its purpose is to indicate to authorities that the toys bearing it are intended for sale in the European Community, that they meet the essential safety requirements of the European Toy Safety Directive and are entitled to access European Community markets.

There may be warnings written by the mark and these should be heeded. A toy that is safe for a five year old may be dangerous when played with by a younger child. Anything that looks like a toy but does not have a CE mark should not be given to a child.

The CE Mark is now appearing on many other products including cycle helmets, and knee and elbow protective pads used by skateboarders and others.

The Lion Mark

The Lion Mark was developed in 1988 by the British Toy & Hobby Association as a symbol of toy safety and quality for the consumer.

While the Lion Mark is only used by BTHA members, its membership includes many major international and European companies. In all, the BTHA members supply around 95% of all toys sold in the UK.

For a toy to display the Lion Mark, the supplier has signed a strict Code of Practice, (the BATR Code is based on this same document), which, as well as covering toy safety matters, demands the highest standards of ethics in advertising.

The Lion Mark for Retailers

The British Association of Toy Retailers joined with the British Toy & Hobby Association to develop the Lion Mark for use by retailers. By displaying this sign the retailer is saying that all products in the shop meet a certain standard of safety.

This symbol displayed in the shop, in catalogues and in retailer advertising, indicates that the retailer has agreed to the Code of Practice and, as such, is prepared to make strenuous efforts not only to offer safe toys for sale, but to ensure management and staff are briefed on toy safety matters such as age warnings and similar.

Secondhand Goods

While all new products should meet minimum safety standards, secondhand goods may have been built to an old standard, or there may not have been a standard at all when they were made. In addition, wear and tear may have made them unsafe so you need to check them carefully before Buying Secondhand Equipment. If in any doubt about the safety of items designed for young children, especially secondhand ones, don’t use them.

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