These dangers are highlighted in the 47th annual report from World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), which recently released its 2019 list of toys most likely to cause injuries. The list includes toys like the Nerf Ultra One dart gun, a Power Rangers Electronic Cheetah Claw, the Pogo Trick Board, and other potentially hazardous toys, which are considered dangerous be in the hands of children.
In its report, WATCH highlights some of the classic safety hazards that continue to re-appear year after year. These include poorly designed toys, as well as inconsistent and inadequate warnings, cautions and age recommendations.
WATCH also highlighted projectile toys that could fire with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries and toys that encourage children to jump or ride with the potential for head injuries. Some of these toys are sold without the proper safety gear or marketed with inconsistent safety messages.
WATCH points out that classic toy dangers, such as small parts, strings, projectiles, toxic substances, rigid materials and inaccurate warnings and labels, continue to be manufactured by the toy industry in newly designed packaging.
The report also outlines the impact of online purchasing on toy safety, up-to-date information about toy recalls and the necessity for more stringent oversight of the toy industry.
Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys, agrees and says that unfortunately there have been many deaths, disfigurements and disabilities inflicted upon children as a result of poorly designed and tested toys. “This is alarming considering that many of toy-related injuries are preventable,” she adds.
“In South Africa thousands of potentially dangerous toys hit the shelves which end up in the hands of children because of the lack of legislation ensuring toys that are sold are safe.”
She continues: “Warnings on toys for sale in South Africa should certainly at a minimum comply with the SABS, South African National Standard. Beyond any regulatory/statutory requirements however, there is a duty on a toy manufacturer to take reasonable measures to ensure not only that a toy is safely constructed/manufactured, but further to ensure that adequate warnings are given regarding the safe use of a toy.”
WATCH’s 2019 list of toys that are deemed to be unsafe are:
Manufacturer or distributor: Hasbro
According to WATCH, the manufacturer of this dart ‘blaster’ boasts that the ammunition ‘fires up to 120 feet’ with ‘powerful speed’ making this the ‘farthest flying NERF dart ever'. The darts provided can shoot with enough force to potentially cause eye injuries.
Manufacturer or distributor: Learning Resources, Inc
This ‘hedgehog’ sold for oral-age children as young as 18 months old, comes with 12 removable, rigid-plastic ‘quills’ measuring approximately 3 and a half inches long. The quills can potentially be mouthed and block a child’s airway.
Manufacturer or distributor: Spin Master Ltd
Bunchems are multi-coloured activity balls that are meant to stick together when children engage in building activities. There have been reports of the plastic, connective toys becoming ensnared in children’s hair.
Manufacturer or distributor: Douglas Company, Inc.
This soft creature is sold for oral-age childen. The ‘cuddle’ toy has long, fibre-like hair that may not be adequately rooted, such that pulling with minimum effort could lead to removal. Once separated from the toy, the hair presents the potential for ingestion or aspiration injuries.
Manufacturer or distributor: LaRose Industries, LLC, d/b/a Cra-Z-Art
This colourful ‘slime’ is offered to children with the appearance of some of their favourite frozen treats, including ‘mint chocolate chip’, ‘berry smoothie’, and ‘soft serve.’ At the same time, the manufacturer issues a warning regarding ‘harmful chemicals’ while advising: “Not real food – do not eat.”
Manufacturer or distributor: Anstoy
Given the numerous tragedies resulting from outfitting children with realistic toy weapons, there is simply no excuse for marketing toys such as this ‘submachine gun'. Detailed replicas mistaken for lethal weaponry have resulted in numerous deaths over the years, and should never be sold as toys.
Manufacturer or distributor: Schylling
These miniature yellow school buses are sold with a ‘choking hazard’ warning on a removable, stick-on label. The firm rubber tires, mounted on plastic wheels, can be removed, presenting the potential for a serious choking injury for oral age children.
Manufacturer or distributor: Flybar, Inc.
Children using this pogo trick board with ‘high bounce ball’ are provided dual handles for tricking out. Despite the manufacturer’s warning to wear a helmet and other protective gear, only two of the three children shown on the packaging are wearing helmets, and none are using other protective items.
Manufacturer or distributor: Hasbro
The Power Rangers ‘Beast Morphers’ claws are made of rigid plastic. Five-year-olds are encouraged to use the ‘strength of the Cheetah Claw to ‘take on enemies!’ The manufacturer simultaneously advises children not to ‘hit or swing at people…’
Manufacturer or distributor: Viga; Belvedere
Despite the industry’s standard requiring strings on playpen and crib toys to be less than 12 inches in length, manufacturers are still permitted to market ‘pull toys’ such as this one with a cord measuring approximately 24 inches. No warnings are provided.
Haslam says that it is scary how many of these products or similar products are readily available in store and online in South Africa.
“If you or a dependent are injured by a dangerous toy that doesn’t carry the required warnings, you might be entitled to claim damages,” she explains. “Under South African law, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and suppliers can all be held liable for damages caused by defective or hazardous products.”