Choice assessed 23 toys that would appeal to under-threes, including plastic vehicles and musical instruments, action games and battery-powered toys. The items were purchased from a range of variety discount stores and larger retailers across Sydney and ranged in price from $3-$17.
15 toys had small parts break off or parts which came loose after Choice testers applied pressure or tension and were unsafe. The Australian standard states toys must not contain small parts that present a choking hazard, or produce any when subjected to tests designed to simulate normal use such as dropping, pressing or pulling.
Of the 15, six also had easily accessible battery compartments and one toy gun which failed as the suction cap on the projectile was able to be removed making it a potential hazard particularly if fired at an eye or vulnerable area.
“We went to shops looking specifically for toys we suspected would fail tests. While the major retailers show greater commitment to quality and safety, the toys that failed the mandatory safety tests were all found at discount variety stores,” says Choice CEO, Alan Kirkland.
“Discount suppliers and smaller retailers often lack the knowledge and accountability of bigger retailers. Often the toys they sell are from little known brands or have no brand information on them at all, making it difficult for regulators to keep track of suppliers,” says Mr Kirkland.
Product Safety Australia puts the onus on manufacturers, distributors and retailers of products to ensure they comply with Australian standards. Product Safety Australia and state-based consumer protection bodes, such as the Office of Fair Trading, enforce regulation, ensure compliance and undertake testing. Choice has shared the test results released today with NSW Fair Trading.
“Fair Trading investigators are always on the lookout for potentially dangerous products being sold particularly in markets and discount stores and these operations will intensify as we head into the Christmas shopping period,” says NSW Fair Trading Minister, Anthony Roberts.
In the past 12 months, NSW Fair Trading investigators have removed 117 varieties of dangerous toys from sale.
“The shop owners selling unsafe toys may simply not be aware of the standards or in some cases there may be language barriers – however there are no excuses for potentially putting kids’ lives at risk,” says Mr Kirkland.
When shopping for toys Choice advises people:
- Read instructions about proper assembly, use and supervision carefully.
- Check for small and/or loose parts that could become a choking hazard.
- Toys for babies and toddlers should be washable, non-breakable and have no sharp edges, rough surfaces and sharp points.
- If you are buying a toy that shoots projectiles, only choose ones with soft or non-removable suction caps and make sure the firing mechanism won’t discharge any other objects like stones or nails, and that the projectile’s impact is weak enough to not cause injury.
- Toys with simple, rugged designs are often better suited to the rough and tumble of toddlers play.
- Buy toys from reputable dealers.
Read the CHOICE report into toy safety.