September 2010 management briefing: Clothing safety regulations
Wearing clothes is not the most dangerous of pastimes, but there are risks associated with wearing clothes, from the contact consumers and workers' skin has with the chemicals used in production, to potential for strangulation by drawstrings. This management briefing looks at how mature markets protect clothing and textile consumers from harm; how companies can make the REACH chemical safety system work for them; and how emerging markets are playing catch-up on global safety standards.
Wearing clothes is not the most dangerous of pastimes; but there are risks associated with wearing clothes, from the contact consumers and workers' skin has with the chemicals used in production, to potential for strangulation by drawstrings. There is also growing concern about the use of nanoparticles in consumer products.
Even though product safety is low on the list of problems EU consumers say they face when buying clothing or footwear, these products were the second most common notification reported through European Union product safety alert system RAPEX in 2009. And the country of origin with most notifications was China.
Clothing manufacturers and associated regulators in emerging markets are often mindful that they need to meet the requirements of consumer safety rules in key developed world markets, but standards still need raising, and - crucially - enforcement.
The first deadline for registering key substances under the European Union's (EU) REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) programme for chemical safety controls is looming on 30 November. But though it is more than three years since the policy entered into force, a measure of confusion and even anxiety clearly exists in parts of the global textiles industry.
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