Fabric Compliance Data & CE Marking
If you've stumbled upon this page and have scanned down, resulting in a cold sweat - panic not! This page is for customers who are soft toy manufacturers and require special information to market their products.
If this is you - hello! Again, panic not! You're probably in a spin as you're reading this, also in a cold sweat wondering if you'll be able to set up your business. Don't worry, we're here to help!
Toy Safety Regulations
As a manufacturer of toys, and we'll refer to them as 'soft toys' throughout this page as we only deal in fabric(!), you must comply with the provisions of the Toy (Safety) Regulations 2011 for toys placed on the market (eg for sale). This relates to the European Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC.
Great Britain may be leaving the European Union, but for the foreseeable future this Regulation still stands. When we do leave the EU, toy safety won't be any less important. So, set up right first time and you'll be able to move forward not only with your business from start up, but be able to adapt to whatever legislation follows in the years to come.
What does this mean for you?
This all means that you need to 'CE mark' your soft toy. It's something you'll see on things you buy all the time, the CE mark on the tag, but you may never have paid attention to it! The letters "CE" are the abbreviation of French phrase "Conformité Européene" which literally means "European Conformity".
What requirements do you need to meet?
The main requirements are that toys must:
- satisfy the ‘essential safety requirements’ in the regulations
- be properly marked to ensure traceability
- bear the CE mark
- be accompanied by instructions for use, and warnings where necessary
Technical documentation and a description of the conformity assessment method used for each toy must be available.
- make sure the toy has been designed and manufactured to comply with the essential safety requirements during its foreseeable and normal period of use
- carry out a safety assessment of the toy
- demonstrate that an applicable conformity assessment procedure has been followed
- draw up the EC declaration of conformity and affix the CE marking
- draw up the technical documentation and keep it for 10 years
- apply information identifying the toy and manufacturer on the toy or packaging
- make sure the toy is accompanied by instructions for safe use and safety information where appropriate
- make sure that continuing production runs of the same toy remain in conformity
- carry out sample testing of marketed toys
- investigate and record any complaint made in relation to the toy and keep a register of complaints, non-compliant toys and recalled toys
- bring non-conforming toys into compliance and tell authorities if there is a safety risk and provide information to authorities on request
- identify the other economic operators in the supply chain
This is all very confusing. Isn't it just for big manufacturers?
No, afraid not. If you're making something for sale, even on a small scale and mainly as a hobby, you are still manufacturing a soft toy for sale. 'Toys are products designed or intended (whether or not exclusively) for use in play by children under 14 years old'. Even with an exclusion list, which you can view on the Government's website, it's unlikely you'll find a way of avoiding this process.
You will need to CE mark your soft toys if they are for sale.
How can you help me?
You're already thinking 'nope, no way, I can't do this'. Yes you can. Many of my customers have gone through this. I've spoken to so many people over the years and advised them to keep going - it will get easier and you're setting yourself up in business properly.
We cannot help with the process from start to finish, but we can point you in the right direction.
From a fabric shop perspective, you need to collate information relating to the chemical make up of your raw materials. That's where we come in. The first question we're always asked is 'are your fabrics CE marked'. Simple answer is 'no'. Our fabrics don't need to be CE marked, it's your finished product that does. That means your fabric, your raw materials, need to be compliant with the relevant legislation, specifically EN71.
You'll need to be aware of the EN71 part 3 regulation which relates to chemical properties of fabric. You could Google this regulation, read up in the Library where it should be available, or call your local Trading Standards for guidance. It will be worth spending a little time reading up on it. I'd suggest Trading Standards as your first port of call. Trying to read up on this online can be confusing. Every Council has a Trading Standards team. Use this link to find them.
Are your fabrics compliant with EN71?
We are not a manufacturer of the fabrics, we are a retailer. This means there is no requirement for us to test our fabrics prior to sale. We do not hold a responsibility of the chemical elements of fabric. We do, however, know and understand why this is important to you.
As a retailer, it is not appropriate or financially viable for us to test our fabrics. If we did, we'd be adding 100% to the cost of the fabrics, and as we stock over 1,000 we'd also go out of business!
The responsibility to provide information lies with the manufacturer, who is always listed with the name of the fabric (eg Riley Blake Designs, Robert Kaufman, Makower). This does not mean they have to have EN71 compliant fabrics, it means they will have undertaken some form of chemical testing of their fabric.
Manufacturers sell their fabric across the world and they are used for different purposes, so to provide a European specific chemical data assessment for soft toys, is highly unlikely. Remember, these requirements are only for soft toy manufacture, so a fairly small percentage of their customer base.
What do the manufacturers provide regarding chemical testing?
Many of the manufacturers provide information about chemical components of their fabric, but it is not necessarily in European format. For example, some test theirs according to CPSIA standards (for North America). Others use the OEKO-TEX standard on some of their fabrics. Unfortunately, you will very rarely be able to get your hands on a certificate for a certain fabric.
However, through your due diligence process, and with advice from Trading Standards, many of my customers have been able to either translate alternate standards to EN71 or use the manufacturer's response for their technical file.
We work with the following manufacturers:
- Makower UK
- Robert Kaufman
- Riley Blake Designs
- Cotton & Steel
- Michael Miller
We have obtained provisional responses from them all with regard to the most recent data they can provide. Previous information we held is likely to be out of date so we will update this page very soon.