An alarming number of dangerous children’s toys are available on store shelves and online resulting in personal injuries and even, in extreme cases, deaths and parents need to be vigilant when purchasing.
This is according to Kirstie Haslam, partner at DSC Attorneys, who says that this is highlighted in a recent international survey released by World Against Toys Causing Harm (W.A.T.C.H.) which names its 2017 list of toys most likely to cause injuries.
WATCH is an NGO that was created 45 years ago to monitor and prevent these kinds of accidents by highlighting which toys have the potential to hurt children.
Its 2017 list named:
- Hallmark’s Itty Bittys Baby Stacking Toy
This Disney branded toy consists of plush stackable rattling rings. The rings have fabric hats and bows that detach too easily, becoming a choking hazard.
- Tolo Toys’ Pull Along Pony
This plastic pull along pony has a cord that exceeds the allowable length. This poses a strangulation or entanglement risk to children.
- Mattel’s Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword
This sword is made from rigid plastic that can cause facial injuries when children are play fighting with them.
- Kipp Brothers’ Hand Fidgetz Spinners
Most fidget spinners have detachable rings that can become a choking hazard once removed from the spinner.
- Mattel’s Spiderman Spider-Drone (Official Movie Edition)
This drone has high-speed rotating blades that can cause serious injury to fingers, eyes and faces.
- Hasbro’s Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt Crossbow
Designed specifically to fire projectiles, this “crossbow” poses a risk of eye and facial injuries.
- Slackers Slackline Classic Series Kit
This acrobatic kit is marketed as 5+ but the potential for injuries from falls is very high with this tightrope-like device and the line itself could be a strangulation risk.
- Plan Toys’ Oval Xylophone
This toy comes with a small, narrow drumstick that would be easy for a baby to stick down their throat, causing injury and obstruction.
- Razor’s Jetts Heel Wheels
These strap-on wheels have a skid pad that creates real sparks when braking. These sparks are a burn risk as they could ignite hair and certain fabrics.
- Melissa & Doug’s Brianna Babydoll
This doll has many small items that are removable and could be a choking hazard to babies and small children.
Haslam says that many of these dangerous toys mentioned in the report are readily available instore and online in South Africa.
Haslam warns that as well as avoiding these toys highlighted, parents should look at types of toys that pose dangers. She refers to a recent article which appeared in the AAJ (American Association for Justice) Journal quoting Rachel Weintraub, the legislative director and general counsel for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) who when asked what are some of the dangerous products and toys affecting children today, Weintraub said that for example, choking is a leading type of toy injury as toys for children six and under often include small parts and children get toys that are too small for them, despite the warning label.
She says that riding toys that are either ridden on the street or in a driveway where vehicles can’t see them are another hazard and that off-highway vehicles, such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVS), pose serious threats too. She said that in 2015, ATVs killed at least 58 children under 16, accounting for 17 percent of all ATV fatalities that year in the US. Then she said there are rare-earth magnets and that there are thousands of incidents of children swallowing these very strong magnets, which pose a hidden hazard because the magnets are strong enough to rip through the esophagus or small intestine if a child swallows more than one.
Commenting on how the landscape of children’s products safety has changed in the past 10 or 20 years, she points out that new technology presents risks that are not adequately addressed before the products are put on the market.
She cites the example of hoverboards, which are not considered toys, but children obviously interact with them. She says that the traditional hoverboard hazard is the fall hazard, but the battery packs are more cause for concern – they’re new technology that poses a fire risk.
Haslam says that in its toy recall report for 2017, Safe Kids Worldwide lists top toy recalls for the year based on their danger and number of units. Included are several models of self-balancing scooters/hoverboards, plush toys, and list-up spinners. In total, the list represented a staggering 3,605,310 units of toys.
WATCH warns internet buyers to beware and compares the internet to the ‘Wild West’ when it comes to outlawed toys. They say that regulations and safety protocols for e-commerce transactions are often nonexistent or inadequate.
Internet buyers beware
In a statement WATCH warns internet buyers to beware and compares the internet to the ‘Wild West’ when it comes to outlawed toys and states that shoppers may expect that there are checks and balances in place to prevent the online sale of recalled toys, toys already deemed to be unsafe, but unfortunately this is not always the case. They say that regulations and safety protocols for e-commerce transactions are often nonexistent or inadequate. They also highlight that consumer-to-consumer ‘second-hand sales’, which are inconsistently monitored, if monitored at all, provide new opportunities for recalled toys to surface.
Product liability claims
Haslam says that if you or a dependant is injured by a dangerous toy that doesn’t carry the required warnings, you might be entitled to claim damages and that under South African law, manufacturers, retailers, distributors and suppliers can all be held liable for damages caused by defective or hazardous products.
She says that the Consumer Protection Act of 2008 was introduced to safeguard South African consumers from flawed or defective goods, whether the goods are locally produced or imported. “It provides clear remedies for those affected by defective or dangerous merchandise,” she explains. “A consequence of the Act is that the onus is no longer on the consumer to prove fault or negligence in a product liability claim. The entire supply chain is now required by law to ensure that all products are safe for their intended uses.”
“A consequence of the Consumer Protection Act of 2008 is that the onus is no longer on the consumer to prove fault or negligence in a product liability claim. The entire supply chain is now required by law to ensure that all products are safe for their intended uses.” – Kirstie Haslam, DSC Attorneys.
However, because of the complexity of this type of personal injury cases, Haslam says it is wise to seek the advice of a personal injury attorney, which has extensive experience in handling product liability claims including claims involving injuries to children.