ASTM F963 originated in 1976, when the first version of the standard was published. Toys manufactured during this time were notoriously dangerous, and the existence of this standard is tied directly to the many hazards that they brought onto children. In fact, if you look at practically any list of the most dangerous toys of all time, you will find many well-known consumer toys of the 60s and 70s.
Adherence to the standard successfully eliminates many potential hazards from toys because it identifies the best design practices. This includes almost every aspect of the toys, even those of which the public may not be readily aware. Some specifications are intended to prevent hazards from direct contact with toys, such as stating that “nails and fasteners shall not present a point, edge, ingestion, or projection hazard,” or that surfaces should remain free of any toxic materials.
Additionally, some specifications are written to reduce hazards that may derive from activities conducted as part of the toy’s intended use. For example, ASTM F963-16 addresses ride-on toys and toy seats, noting that the designers should eliminate design choices that could cause the product to tip over easily, taking into account the use of the child’s legs as a means of stabilizing.
While ASTM F963-16 does compile necessary actions for reducing the likelihood of a variety of hazards with toys, no single toy can make use of every guideline in the standard. Instead, the document addresses many known aspects of toys and methods for assuring their safe use by presenting their appropriate design as part of this expansive document. Because of this, manufacturers should closely examine the standard document to see which parts are applicable to their products.
The changes to ASTM F963-16 are plentiful to assure that the requirements are kept up to date. This includes changes to toys incorporating sound, magnets, hinges, etc.
It is also important to note that, while compliance with ASTM F963-16 was voluntary for some time after its initial publication, as of 2008 it has become mandatory under the Consumer Product Safety Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 2051−2089).
Furthermore, this standard establishes nationally recognized safety requirements for toys, but it does not eliminate the need for parental supervision. It is also essential that parents look for indication of ASTM F963-16 certification on the packaging of toys that they buy for their children, since dangerous products can still end up on the market. In 2013 alone, there were over 250,000 toy-related injuries, many of which can be attributed to manufacturers ignoring the standard’s requirements.
In addition, due to the resurgence of older entertainment franchises, we have seen a boost in recent purchases of resold classic toys. Unfortunately, since many of these products were designed with an outdated edition of ASTM F963 or even predate the standard in its entirety, or it, they can be dangerous. Buyers should beware of these products, as their defects can present hazards.
ASTM F963-16 - Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety is now available on the ANSI Webstore.