Obviously this is probably a terrifying prospect, it certainly was for me! There I was with my baby and my tiny little business that I’d not barely even figured out yet, struggling with CE marking, and the men with brief cases wanted to turn up on my doorstep and I was literally, petrified.
But you shouldn’t be!
First of all, trading standards of course are there when things go wrong, but if you’re a new business starting out, they’re not looking to catch you out, they’re looking to help you. So the best thing you can do is to write yourself a list of questions you might have about running a business, as well as the CE marking side of things, and use them to your full advantage ( especially if you’re lucky enough to get a free visit, most people have to pay for advice now)
For me they came and looked over my paperwork, talked over fabrics/ideas and examined and took a few of my toys. They answered my questions (and continued to answer them by email too!) and then went on their way. It really wasn’t as bad as I thought, my TS man has been ever so supportive of my business. (Hello if you’re reading Tom ;))
So what can you do to prepare?
-Have everything together, in order, paperwork wise for your technical files, or if you’re really new, have things which show your plans or intentions (design sheets, risk assessments, certificates)
-Have examples of your toys spare and ready (some trading standards have labs attached which they can test your toys for you!) They will be happy to see the great quality of your work!
-Have a list of questions you might want answers to, whether that be around CE marking, or other business questions such a rules on selling, terms and conditions etc.
What if I’ve been reported maliciously?
Sometimes this happens, its not nice. However again use this to your advantage, make sure everything is in order and ready to show and be confident in your work, if everything is up to date and tested you have no reason to fear trading standards, who will most likely have a look and go on their way.
TS look to advise so unless you’ve sold an unsafe toy which has hurt a child, chances are they are just checking everything is in order.
Do I need to involve trading standards?
No, you don’t need to involve trading standards at all. But sometimes they can be helpful in pointing you towards information you need, or even have their own testing lab to save you some work. Sometimes its nice to have someone look over your paperwork and reassure you all is good.
On the other side of the scale some will charge you for advice (ranging about £45 an hour!) but its worth finding out what the norm is for your county.
Sometimes trading standards advice can vary from area to area, this can be frustrating as you’d expect them all to match up. Sometimes they don’t even have access to the toy regulations! While it might seem great that your TS feel you can make your toys with any un-certified fabric/sell toy looking items with labelling declaring they’re not toys/other variations from en71, bear in mind that if you’re selling online you need to comply with all of the counties you are selling in, and their trading standards may be stricter than yours, in which case we suggest you stick to the regulations, and that way you know your toys are safe and you know all of the EU agrees with your safe fabric choices.
I hope that’s given you a brief lowdown on trading standards, got any questions, or experience with your trading standards? put them in the facebook comments box!