Paper doll with a set of clothes

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Why would you need a guide to making clothing safe?

Sometimes it’s hard to envisage what can cause children’s injuries. It’s not until you experience it with your own children or hear of an incident that you realise there might be a hazard.

If you’re in the retail business you may get complaints that children’s garments you sold have led to an injury, or a near miss. Things like –

  • Small items like buttons, rivets, snaps, beads and sequins can get stuck in the throat, inhaled or shoved up the nose!
  • Cords, drawstrings and ribbons can all too easily get caught on things and be a strangulation hazard
  • Sharp edges on buckles and buttons can poke into the eye or cause a nasty scratch

Because they are not always able to assess risk or avoid a hazard, it’s important to manage children’s safety on their behalf.

Suppliers need help

Suppliers need guidance on how to make sure their garments don’t have hazards.

I’m pleased to note that the National Retail Association has recently published the Children’s Apparel and Accessories Product Safety Guidelines.

The guidelines provide comprehensive advice on what to look for, how to assess and how to minimise risk in children’s clothing.

Given the diverse and dynamic nature of the children’s apparel market the guidelines will have widespread benefits.

A copy of the guidelines are available here: Children-s-Apparel-Accessories-Product-Safety-Guidelines-Apr-2015-.

A great example of private sector initiative

The NRA is to be congratulated on this publication. It is a substantial achievement and one that fills a significant gap.

In my blog How business can influence consumer product safety policy I listed business associations as one of the three key avenues for contributing to product safety.

Private sector initiatives take the onus off government to provide business guidance. The children’s apparel guidelines were written by people in retail businesses who know and understand the market, the products and their customers.

Self-regulatory schemes can reduce the need for regulation. When guidelines are written by industry practitioners they should be easily understood by all.

Other children’s clothing hazards

Chemicals

There is increasing focus on chemical hazards in consumer products. If it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s hazardous with products you can see, like small and sharp attachments, it’s almost impossible with chemicals.

There are certain dyes, plastic softeners, adhesives, heavy metals and so on, which can be toxic.

The NRA guidelines give information and guidance on the kinds of chemicals that may be used in children’s apparel and accessories.

Children’s nightwear flammability

And just while we’re on the subject of children’s clothing safety, I’ll mention children’s nightwear and its flammability risks.

Australia has long had a mandatory standard in place for children’s nightwear. Burns injuries can be severe and the standard has been effective in keeping injury rates low.

The children’s nightwear standard is not part of the NRA guideline. But you can find details about this standard in my blogs What’s happening with the children’s nightwear standard? and Changes to the children’s nightwear standard.

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