Abu Dhabi moves to ensure all toys sold meet safety standards

Abu Dhabi is introducing a new regulatory mark for toys that comply to UAE safety standards.

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ABU DHABI // Worried about whether that new toy is safe for your child? The Abu Dhabi Trustmark is aimed at easing your concerns.

The new safety regulation scheme covers toys for newborns to children aged 14.

It is voluntary, but suppliers who sell toys in Abu Dhabi can now apply for the mark, which will be awarded only to toys that meet rigorous safety standards and regulations.

“The toy market is both versatile and potentially volatile with new product lines posing several quality, safety, health and environment concerns,” said Abdullah Al Khoori, acting executive director for consumer and market services at QCC, the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council.

“The Toy Conformity Scheme will provide consumers with trust in toys bearing the Abu Dhabi Trustmark.”

Standards for toys are crucial to ensure children’s safety and should be age-appropriate, said Dr Eeva-Liisa Langille, consultant paediatrician at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s actually quite common to see a child who has inadvertently swallowed or has had an accident with a toy,” she said.

“I think the key factor is a child’s age should match the toys they play with.”

There may be a lack of awareness among parents about toy safety, she said.

“We see in the clinic children playing with toys that are not quite age-appropriate, and sometimes parents don’t understand it or haven’t heard about it, or just don’t come to think of it.”

Before, the QCC ensured that toys bore the GSO Conformity Mark, which shows compliance with the GCC’s toy requirements.

The GCC mark is required for toys sold in member states and Yemen, said Abdullah Al Maeeni, director of the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology’s conformity affairs department.

“In the UAE, we are the body that is following and enforcing coordination with other departments in other emirates of this scheme,” he said.

“This scheme is implemented in seven countries. So it is one mark, one standard and one conformity process for all these countries.”

Stricter regulations for the mark came into force last month, he said.

The updates included limits for noise levels produced by toys, special requirements for toys that come into contact with food, and updated regulations for chemicals.

Dubai Municipality’s conformity regulators use the GCC mark and have their own lab to test toys, said Sultan Suwaidi, head of the municipality’s public safety department.

The municipality website also includes a list of banned toys, safety guidelines and an e-service for toy importation, Mr Suwaidi said.

The most recent failed toys list available is for December 2012. Among the products affected are craft supplies with high levels of barium, dolls with high levels of lead and toys with sharp points or glass parts that could break.

Suppliers who wish to use the Abu Dhabi Trustmark on their products must apply with information including a QCC-registered lab report, proof of both International Organisation for Standardisation certification and the GSO mark, and samples of the product when necessary. An application form is available on the QCC website.

The President, Sheikh Khalifa, created the QCC in 2009 to raise the quality of exports and locally traded products.

The council offers similar schemes for water fixtures, household electrical appliance, biodiesel and other products.

Abu Dhabi Municipality also announced on Sunday that it had held a workshop about environment, health and safety standards for children’s electromechanical, rubber and water games.

The municipality has started gathering information and improving internal documentation to ensure the safety of games in parks and leisure centres.

It invited international experts from local companies and government as well as international experts and manufacturers to discuss ways to improve its guide to leisure and recreation facilities.