It’s been some time in coming, but it seems the Toy Industry Association’s substantive response to last summer’s recall crisis is finally starting to take firm shape.
With a month-long online public review of its Toy Safety Coordination Initiative with the American National Standards Institute and various government agencies and consumer organizations just wrapping up at press time, a draft Toy Safety Program should be ready for TIA board members to vote on in early May. And if it gets through, the program is pegged to be up and running by early 2009.
‘The new initiative really just formalizes what most, if not all, toy companies have already been doing,’ says TIA president Carter Keithley. ‘It imposes a formal mechanism that is monitored by the American National Standards Institute, so it’s an incremental improvement in the toy safety system.’
Under the proposed program, toys will be analyzed and assessed at earlier stages, in the hopes of identifying potential hazards before product is manufactured and distributed, and thus reducing the number of future recalls.
The other main thrust involves process control audits to evaluate a factory’s production abilities via an approved checklist and ensure it can consistently churn out non-defective toys. A rating will be given on a three-tiered system, and the frequency of future testing will be determined by that initial score.
The manufacturer/supplier will absorb the service costs, and all retailers must obtain certification for toys in order to sell them to customers. An approved seal or mark on the product will indicate to the public that the toy has met all of the program’s requirements.
And toycos that aren’t in compliance could soon find themselves on the wrong side of the law. US Congress is currently considering proposed legislation that would require certification of a safety assurance program. If passed, it would become a mandatory federal requirement of doing business in the toy industry.