Poor knowledge of toy safety standard concerns Commission
26 November 1994
The Commerce Commission is concerned about many businesses' poor knowledge of the toy safety standard.
As Christmas approaches, the Commission has been reminding businesses of their responsibilities under the safety standard.
Commission Fair Trading Manager Keith Manch said that contact with businesses so far has shown many do not understand the safety standard and some do not even know it exists.
The Commission has recently negotiated settlements with four companies who have undertaken to no longer sell unsafe toys and to set up compliance programmes to ensure their staff understand the safety standard.
Coastlands Shopping Town Ltd of Paraparaumu, Spacetech Ltd of Lower Hutt and Videotech Ltd of Dunedin were selling or distributing unsafe toys in plastic egg shells. The toys were sold from vending machines.
Georgie Pie Family Restaurants Ltd was using unsafe toys as give-aways to children aged under three.
Mr Manch said the settlements highlight the wide coverage of the safety standard.
"It applies to far more than solely toy shops. It includes toys used as promotions, give-aways and prizes and applies to retailers, distributors, importers and manufacturers."
The safety standard applies to toys for children aged under three, because up to that age children do not have a coughing reflex when they choke. If they swallow or inhale an object which sticks in their throat, they do not cough and must be helped or they can choke to death.
Simply labelling toys as unsuitable for children under three is not a way around the safety standard. It applies to toys manufactured, designed, labelled or marketed for children under three.
Toys which fit into a measuring cylinder about the size of a film canister are too small and do not meet the safety standard. That also applies to parts of toys that can be removed or which can break off in normal use or foreseeable abuse.
Failing to meet the safety standard is a breach of the Fair Trading Act. The Commission can take action by using warnings, settlements or court action. Courts can impose fines of up to $100,000 on companies and up to $30,000 on individuals. They can also impose a wide range of orders and injunctions.
The Commission publishes a plain language guide to the toy safety standard. It is available free of charge.
Media contact:Vince Cholewa, Communications Officer
Phone work (04) 471 0180, home (04) 479 1432