Making Children’s Winter Clothing Safer in Europe and the UK
Since belts, toggles and drawstrings may be features on winter clothes, designers and manufacturers of children’s clothes should consider how young consumers might behave when wearing a product.
They should also think about how a child’s behavior might turn seemingly innocuous components into deadly dangers.
Children like to explore and challenge themselves and yet, compared to adults, they have less (if any) awareness of “cause and effect”. This makes them substantially less cautious about potential hazards and less capable of calculating risks.
What are the hazards?
Children’s clothes can be associated with many potential hazards. These include restricted blood flow – which could result from socks, gloves, sleeves and so on being too tight – or the injuries caused by entrapment, sharp objects or tripping. Manufacturers must also be mindful of choking and swallowing hazards and the potential for strangulation and suffocation. In addition, manufacturers should be aware of the possible consequences of restricted vision or hearing (e.g. with hoods) and the dangers of overheating (e.g. baby sleeping bags).
Clearly, clothes manufacturers have a duty of care to protect the children wearing their products. The penalties for failing in this duty, in addition to the stigma of causing harm to vulnerable consumers, include legal action that could lead to fines and imprisonment. What’s more, such failures may result in adverse publicity and potentially costly product recalls and declining sales.
Complying with the Standards
The European Union’s General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) 2001 defines a safe product as one that under “normal or reasonably foreseeable” conditions of use presents no risk or only the minimum risk compatible with the product’s use. Also, the product must be consistent with a high level of protection for consumers.
In addition to GPSD compliance, products are likely to be subject to specific regulations, national and international standards, industry Codes of Practice and more. For children’s clothes, these include:
- CEN/TR 16792 – promotes mechanical safety in the design and manufacture of children’s clothing
- EN 14682 – relates to cords and drawstrings (recently updated; see below)
- EN 14878 – regulates the burning behavior of children’s nightwear for Europe
- BS 5722 – concerns the flammability performance of fabrics/fabric combinations used in UK nightwear and is more stringent than EN 14878
- EN 13758-2 – governs the solar ultra-violet (UV) protective properties of garments
- BS 8466 – covers hats and the protection against solar UV rays that they provide
- EN 71 – regarding mechanical safety (Part 1); flammability (2); migration of certain elements (3)
To help ensure compliance with all of these legal requirements, manufacturers should think about the reasonable and foreseeable circumstances of use in relation to their products. Adopting a “prevention is better than cure” mindset and putting safety first also involves manufacturers considering the possible misuse of a product and adapting the design accordingly.
EN 14682:2014 – An update on Cords and Drawstrings
Compliance with a harmonized standard such as EN 14682 gives the “presumption of conformity” to the product. However, there are limits to the scope of EN 14682.
The following list of items is out of the scope of EN 14682, which means that while the standard may be used where applicable, there’s no automatic “presumption of conformity”:
- Bibs, nappies and holders for dummies/soothers
- Shoes, boots and similar footwear
- Gloves, hats, bonnets and scarves
- Neckties for shirts and blouses
- Belts (although tied belts are within scope) and braces
- Theatrical costumes used for theatrical performances
- Bags and purses
- The following items, if worn for limited periods and under supervision:
- Religious and celebratory clothing (e.g. during ceremonies)
- Specialist sports and activity clothing (e.g. rugby shorts, dancewear) – except if commonly worn as daywear or nightwear
- Aprons intended to be worn over daywear
EN 14682:2014 outlines some general requirements for these items. For example, no functional cords should emerge (or be tied) at the back, unless the item is defined as a sash. In addition, the ends of cords must be sealed to prevent fraying and unravelling and shouldn’t include an entrapment hazard (such as a knot or toggle). However, a toggle can appear on a decorative cord under certain restrictions.
The 2014 update to EN 14682 also goes into specifics about what’s permissible on clothing in relation to five body zones: the head, neck and upper chest; the chest and waist; below the hips; the back; and the arms.
How Can SGS Help?
SGS can help clothes designers and manufacturers to ensure that their products conform to all the relevant national and international standards, including EN 14682:2014 and the GPSD 2001.
For more information about softlines services on offer from SGS, please visit SGS Softlines and Accessories or contact:
Softlines Technical Specialist
SGS United Kingdom Ltd
t: +44 (0)1379 668625