DESIGNED FOR SAFETY
Most shoppers would likely be surprised to learn about all the safety-related work that goes on behind the scenes throughout the toy design, development, testing, production and delivery processes.
Toy design is truly more than just fun and games – it’s very serious business. Incorporating information from parents, psychologists, educators, and child development specialists, toy designers seek to understand how kids learn through play and at what age they are physically and cognitively ready for certain types of toys.
Some of the basic steps in the toy design process include:
- Applying Age-Appropriate Safety Guidelines: The process designers use to age-grade a toy is very sophisticated. The guidelines are developed and constantly updated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
- Enlisting Outside Experts: In addition to the engineers and specialists on staff, toy companies rely on guidelines and testing by outside experts, such as designers, toxicologists, pediatricians, chemists, child psychologists, ophthalmologists and other specialists.
- Calling All Kids: One of the most informative aspects of the design process is when children are first asked to play with a new toy. In controlled test settings, children are observed playing with toys to assess durability and age-appropriateness.
Design is the beginning, not the end, of the toy safety story.
TESTING FOR SAFETY
Did you know that there are actually 100 different types of toy safety tests?
Safety testing occurs throughout the manufacturing process, and is conducted by accredited testing engineers who are specifically trained in the rigorous U.S. toy safety requirements. Specialized testing is performed on toys that are picked randomly off the production line, both in the plant and off-site.
Because all toys sold in America – regardless of where they are made – must conform to tough U.S. safety standards, toy companies frequently conduct unannounced inspections in foreign/overseas manufacturing plants (such as those in China) and demand assurances that the products coming from suppliers’ factories (e.g., materials and subcomponents obtained from other sources) meet all U.S. safety standards. Toys are also randomly tested before they are exported to the U.S.
Safety testing doesn’t stop when toys leave the manufacturing plant. Toy companies continue to conduct tests on random samples of toy products pulled from warehouses (where toys are stored before being shipped to stores). Testing takes place in both company labs and in independent laboratories.
As an additional step, many manufacturers, retailers and importers also spot-test products before putting them on store shelves … and sometimes even re-test items already on store shelves.
The U.S. toy industry invests hundreds of millions of dollars annually to assure the integrity of the world’s strongest toy safety system. You can learn more about the types of tests the industry uses to evaluate toys while they are in the production and delivery stages by following the links below:
The toy industry will continue to work with others who share our “24/7 Commitment” to safe and fun play!