Can I trust Canadian standards for toy safety?

December 21, 2014

Rattles, dolls, trucks: Canadian standards for toys make safe products for children. But just what are those standards?
Canadian standards for toys are both rigorous and clear. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, racing car, play-makeup kit, puzzle or science set, its manufacturer or distributor must comply with the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. The CCPSA defines toys as a “product that is intended for use by a child in learning or play.” According to Health Canada, the term applies to all such products destined for children up to the age of 14.

Can I trust Canadian standards for toy safety?

Some Canadian standards for toys

Manufacturers and distributors who want to have their products sold in Canada must not only comply with the regulations, they must report to Health Canada any safety incidents involving their products. The regulations aim to prevent accidents caused by mechanical, electrical or thermal hazards, or by a product’s flammability and toxicity.

The CCPSA also applies to toys that may otherwise contain lead or flammable textiles, such as play clothes and stuffed animals. Here are some of the standards manufacturers have to comply with:

  • Toys labelled suitable for children under three years old should not have small detachable parts that might be swallowed or inhaled. This means ensuring that car wheels are not detachable, that the eyes of dolls and stuffed animals are properly secured and that those little red pegs for grasping puzzle pieces can’t be removed.
  • Toy boxes or containers fastened by a door or a lid and that are large enough for a child to enter must have large ventilation holes to prevent suffocation.
  • To prevent poisoning and choking dangers, soft toys may not be stuffed with seeds (barley, corn, rice and lavender, etc.). Nor can plant seeds be used for noise-making toys, such as rattles, if they’re intended for children under three years of age.
  • Metal toys should be designed so that no sharp edges are exposed. Similarly, nails, staples, bolts and screws that hold assembled toys together must be adequately secured.
  • Yo-yo strings and the like should not stretch to more than 500 mm to reduce the risk of strangulation.
  • Finger paint must be water-based.

What happens in cases of non-compliance?

When a product is not in accordance with Canadian safety standards for toys, Health Canada can ask the manufacturer to modify the product or voluntarily withdraw it from the market. After that, the agency can issue a recall or pursue litigation with the maker or distributor.

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