RAPEX is the European Union’s (EU) rapid alert system for dangerous products, excluding food, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. It ensures that, once the European Commission has been notified about a dangerous product, that knowledge is swiftly passed to all 31 countries in the EU and EEA (European Economic Area). Notifications can be either compulsory, meaning they originate from a governmental or customs authority, or voluntary, meaning the producer or distributor has identified a problem and has asked for the product to be withdrawn from sale.
In the last few years, the overall number of notifications has remained generally stable, with 2021 recalls in 2013, 2243 in 2014, 1856 in 2015 and 2044 in 2016. During the same period, toys have remained the predominant category of recalled products, making up 26% of recalls in 2016. The principal originating countries for notifications in 2016 were Germany, Spain, France, Hungary and the UK.
Apart from toys, the category of Childcare Articles and Children’s Equipment had 74 notifications in 2016, accounting for 5% of all recalls and making it one of the top five recalled categories. Childcare articles and children’s equipment has been increasing as a category, rising from only 36 notified products in 2013.
Of the 74 products notified in 2016, 16 of them were categorized as furniture, referring to high chairs, wooden cots, wooden playpens and children’s chairs.
Figure 1. Childcare Articles and Children’s Equipment – Notifications in 2016
The notifications associated with childcare articles and children’s equipment were equally split between compulsory and voluntary, demonstrating that the voluntary system is working well. Stakeholders should also be aware that three of these notifications resulted from incident reports – two involving safety gates and one relating to a baby carrier. In addition, one notification resulted from the accidental death of a child.
Figure 2. Country of Origin for Childcare Articles and Children’s Equipment 2016
According to the data produced by RAPEX, the majority of notified products in this category came from EU and EEA countries. However, SGS expert, Catherine Follin-Arbelet, sounded a note of caution when looking at this data, identifying that a number of these products have been incorrectly categorized and actually originated in China – Hong Kong, the second largest source of notified products.
Figure 3. Notified Products – Main Sub-Categories (58 out of 74 products)
The relatively high number of notifications associated with safety gates can be attributed to a recent report by PROSAFE, the European market surveillance organization, into safety barriers. The main reasons given for the 21 notifications in this sub-category were entrapment, strength, snagging, failure of the locking mechanism and inappropriate construction, in this case insufficient height to provide a safe barrier.
Entrapment and snagging were again contributing factors in the second largest sub-category of notified childcare articles and children’s equipment – cots, folding cots and cribs. In addition, insufficient strength was also a contributing factor in the twelve notifications in this sub-category.
The ten notifications in the third type – amber necklaces and bracelets – were the result of small parts being potential choking hazards and the risk of possible strangulation. These two hazards were also seen in other sub-categories, including children’s chairs, baby walkers and baby cushions.
Figure 4. Principal Hazards
The statistics show that entrapment is the main hazard in the childcare articles and children’s equipment, accounting for 24 of the notifications. In addition to safety gates, it was also identified as a problem in playpens, cots, folding cots, changing tables for folding cots, high chairs, pushchairs and prams.
Manufacturers need to be aware of the potential hazards associated with childcare articles and children’s equipment. RAPEX produces weekly reports, which can help manufacturers remain informed on recalls within their product sector.
SGS Solutions: Helping Manufacturers Stay Compliant
SGS offers a range of services to help manufacturers and distributors of juvenile products and childcare articles avoid costly and damaging product recalls. Our dedicated team of experts work with companies to development of compliant products. We provide product testing (physical/mechanical, chemical, flammability, food contact), safety assessments and inspections to ensure that a product is compliant with its target market. This will help mitigate the risk of recalls, which can be expensive and highly damaging to a brand’s reputation.
Learn more about SGS Juvenile Product Services.
For more information:
Senior Expert, Juvenile Products
t: +33 4 42 61 64 57