October 17, 2006

Children and Small Objects

It may seem obvious that children should not have small objects. The Consumer Product Safety Commission announces recalls about small toys and objects that are choking hazards for children every year. This only proves there are still many opportunities for children to find small objects and put them in their mouths. This even includes small objects found on clothing.

There are many small objects that can be found on children's clothing. Buttons, ribbon flowers, zipper pulls, snap parts and other attached trims can easily work themselves loose and become a choking hazard. If you are a designer of children's clothing, this is something you must pay attention to.

Any attached trims must be securely attached. There are various methods by which this can be done, so I won't detail them here. The important thing is to test your clothing by sending it to a testing lab or by performing the test yourself. In fact, you should test a pre-production sample, test during production, and test post-production. This may sound like overkill, but I have inspected product and found problems all three times. I have inspected imported (and domestic) goods where the contractors sewed ribbon flowers on with only three stitches or buttons by a couple of hand stitches. These problems were serious enough, I have sent entire production runs for repair.

I call this kind of test a pull test. A testing lab may call it something else. The test is performed by determining the amount of force required to pull a trim off. When I worked on some private label programs the amount force a trim was required to withstand was 10lbs of force for 10 seconds. If you are also involved in a private label program, this information should be included in a quality manual, as it may vary with each company. I don't know where this particular standard came from (probably ASTM), but it seems to be a good guide in my experience. BTW, you can purchase quality standard information from ASTM.

You can perform this test yourself if you purchase a push-pull gauge. (This link is just for a picture and not necessarily an endorsement of this company). The gauge will come with a hook that you can hook around a trim. Apply the force gradually by pulling until you get up to about 10lbs and hold. If the trim is going to come off, it will do it while you are pulling up to 10lbs. After you do this test, make sure to record it on a quality test/audit page for each style.

A retailer should give a quick inspection to clothing before putting them on a sales rack. If you find any loose trims, return it to the manufacturer.

I have never heard of a product recall for loose buttons or trims. That doesn't mean it couldn't happen. So test, test, test.... Better safe than sorry.

No comments:

Post a Comment