Myth: A draft European Directive threatens to ban noisy toys. “The proposed Euro rules would mean that tin plate clicking frogs, tin whistles, old fashioned football rattles, ear-piercing whistles and toy xylophones may… be silenced for good.
Sources: Independent on Sunday, News Of The World, Sunday People, Sunday Telegraph (14 January 1996), The Sun (15 January 1996)
Truth: A general Directive on toy safety was agreed in 1988. Under the new approach to harmonisation directives, the detailed laying down of technical specifications to meet the essential requirements of the directives is left to the standrads body.
The existing European standards for toy safety are the EN71 series standards. The EC has indeed asked the standards body concerned (CEN) to look at the question of noise intensity in revising this standard. This standards body on which are represented manufacturers, consumer bodies and other interested parties has carried out scientific work using as one of its bases the existing EC directive on the protection of noise at work.
No final decision has been taken, but a draft proposal does exist relating to continual and peak sounds of certain types of toys such as those designed to be places near to the ear including for example a music box which might be placed in a child’s cot, and indeed whose sound level results from the child blowing it, eg whistles or musical instruments, radios, tape recorders, etc.
Comments on the proposal are welcome. the revised EN71-1 standard on toys may be adopted by the end of this year or early next year and there will be a transition period of two years. The standards are voluntary, unless transposed into legislation. If a toy is manufactured in accordance with these new standards there is a presumption that it meets with the ‘essential requirements of the 1988 toy directive’. Manufacturers not conforming to the technical standards have to prove that they do conform to the essential requirements of the original 1988 directive on toy safety.