Everything You Need to Know About the New Toy Association Course

by KRISTIN MORENCY GOLDMAN, senior communications specialist, The Toy Association

There are hundreds of U.S. and global requirements and tests in place to ensure the safety of toys, but navigating these laws, which are continually revised based on emerging products, trends, and technologies, can be challenging.

That’s why The Toy Association created a unique, exclusive Safety Education Program, available at toyassociation.org. The program is led by industry experts from the Association who walk participants through the federal, state, and international product safety landscape; provide important details about compliance based on specific toy types; lend insight on how to keep track of standards as they evolve; and more.

“The Toy Association team has been educating the industry on safety matters for many years, but this program is unique in that it’s accessible online 24/7 for participants to go through at their own pace and as their schedules allow,” says Ed Desmond, The Toy Association’s executive vice president of external affairs.

One of the experts behind the course materials is Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs at the Association and an industry veteran with nearly 40 years of experience in toy safety. As a global leader in his field, he participates in several international committees and working groups responsible for toy and juvenile product safety standards.

Kaufman regularly fields inquiries from members who have questions about compliance with U.S. and international product safety laws, product testing, and more.

“Toy professionals who participate in the course will find that it serves as an excellent roadmap to various lengthy technical documents,” Kaufman says. “The course content covers just about every topic we are frequently asked about regarding safety — and more. We lay out what companies need to know and where to turn to help ensure that their product types are in compliance with the most up-to-date laws and regulations.”

The Toy Association’s Senior Vice President of Standards and Regulatory Affairs Joan Lawrence’s portion of the online course covers ASTM F963, which includes dozens of provisions that apply to all sorts of toys sold in the U.S. Her experience and leadership spans a broad range of issues — from product safety and quality to corporate social responsibility initiatives. She chairs the ASTM International subcommittee on toy safety and the U.S. technical advisory group to the global technical committee on toy safety, and is known within the industry as the “Toy Safety Mom.”

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Year-round, Toy Association staff works with various government agencies, regulators, and consumer groups to align global standards and ultimately make it simpler for companies to enter new markets.

“As we continue our efforts to align standards, it’s important for companies selling in foreign markets to understand that there are some differences in how toys are regulated elsewhere,” Lawrence says.

To that end, the Safety Education Program dives into the requirements for toys used in Canada and the European Union, as well as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO standard), highlighting specifics on how to achieve compliance.

Additional course presenters include The Toy Association’s Rebecca Mond, vice president of federal government affairs, and Jennifer Gibbons, vice president of state government affairs.

Mond works closely with members to help them understand and comply with existing and pending federal legislation and regulations. She also helps companies navigate issues related to importing and the federal agencies involved in toy importing and sales.

Gibbons works on issues related to product safety, chemical regulation, and environmental sustainability at the U.S. state level, working to minimize potential conflicts of state rules while educating on the existing federal structure that ensures toy safety.

Christian Wetterberg, senior director of product safety and compliance at The LEGO Group, rounds out the course with his insight into the international landscape. Wetterberg also chairs both the European and ISO technical committees on toy safety and is a recognized international expert in the area.

The Safety Education Program consists of about six hours of curriculum presented in webinar format and is delivered via 11 modules. At the end of each module, participants must correctly answer questions on the content in order to move ahead. Participants who successfully complete the program receive certificates of completion from The Toy Association. As standards change, course materials will be updated.

The Safety Education Program is a free resource offered to all Toy Association members. Non-members may access the program for a fee. Learn more by visiting the “Education” tab at toyassociation.org.

As The Toy Association’s senior communications specialist, Kristin Morency Goldman leads the development of content for the Association’s print and online communications. Her articles on toy trends, toy safety, and industry news can be found in trade and consumer publications around the world. She holds a master’s degree in media, culture, and communications from NYU.

This article originally appeard in the March/April edition of the Toy Book.