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CONSUMER PRODUCTS AND RETAIL E-SSENTIALS

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UK: Guidance on risk assessing products that contain small high-powered magnets published

OCTOBER 2021 -  TOYS AND CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS

On 22 October 2021, the UK published a guidance for local authorities on risk assessing products that contain small high-powered magnets1. This guidance expands on the safety alert2 issued by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) in May 2021. It provides additional context to support local authorities in carrying out risk assessments in relation to the ingestion hazard where two or more magnets attract each other across soft tissue. 

Four types of products that contain small high-powered magnets are introduced. These are:

  1. Novelty items comprised of small high-powered accessible magnets which include desk toys or stress relievers, also in this category are small non-food imitating novelty magnetic stationery (such as fridge/notice board magnets) that may have a play value.
  2. Magnetic mouth or nose jewellery. This is jewellery that imitates jewellery that would require a piercing (such as a tongue barbell) but instead uses a magnet/s to hold the jewellery in place.
  3. Magnetic ear and/or body jewellery. Like magnetic mouth or nose jewellery, these products do not require a piercing.
  4. Magnetic glassware charms. These products are used to decorate glassware.

For this guidance, OPSS defines high-powered magnets as those which have a magnetic flux of greater than 50 kG2mm2. However, it is important to recognise that magnet strength should be considered along a continuum and is not a binary low-high categorisation

The following risk evaluation factors appropriate to the product shall be considered when evaluating the risk outcomes:

  1. The vulnerability of the potential users;
  2. Balancing an unlikely harm occurring with a high severity of harm if it did occur;
  3. The number of individual hazards and risks identified with the product;
  4. The inherent nature of the hazard/s;
  5. Confusing or contradictory warnings that may increase the potential risk;
  6. Any concerns expressed locally or nationally about the safety of the product or type of product
For more details, please refer to the guidance.

 

[1]  Guidance for local authorities on risk assessing products that contain small high-powered magnets

[2]  UK Safety Alert issued for small high-powered magnetic products

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