The nation’s largest toy makers have taken the unusual step of asking
the federal government to impose mandatory safety-testing standards for
all toys sold in the United States.
The proposal, which was approved by the board of the Toy Industry
Association at a private meeting last week, does not envision a broad
federal inspection program.
Instead, companies would be required to hire independent laboratories to check a certain portion of their toys, whether made in the United States or overseas. Leading toy
companies already do such testing, but industry officials acknowledge that it has not been enough.
To address these shortcomings, the proposal calls for uniform standards for frequency of testing, to determine at what point during production the tests would be conducted, and what specific hazards, whether lead paint or small parts, must be checked for.
The uniform standard would also establish global requirements for laboratories that do this testing.
Europeans already require that toys and certain other products undergo
such testing, and they affix a certification mark to products before
they are sold. The United States has no such premarket testing
The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which would ultimately help enforce the mandate, has not yet taken a position on the proposal.
The Toy Industry Association has asked the American National Standards
Institute to help develop the new specifications. Lane Hallenbeck, the
standards institute executive leading the effort, said he hoped to have
a proposal ready by year’s end.