Retailers urged to adopt new nappy sacks packaging safety guidelines

05/12/2017

Retailers across the UK are being urged to include warning labels on the packaging of their nappy sacks to prevent the deaths of very young children.

RoSPA is aware of 17 deaths from suffocation on nappy sacks since 2001, all of which happened to babies under 12-months-old, and has now developed new guidelines for retailers in partnership with the British Retail Consortium.

The guidelines set out the measures that retailers can take to help reduce the risks associated with using nappy sacks, including the inclusion of warning labels on packaging to alert parents and carers to their potentially-deadly dangers.

Sheila Merrill, public health adviser for RoSPA, said: “Nappy sacks are innocuous looking things, and parents don’t necessarily associate them with the same risks posed by ordinary plastic bags. Nappy sacks are flimsy, tactile, and can be appealing to a baby who is starting to explore the world. In some of the instances we know of, babies have been able to grab a nappy sack and put it in their mouth, leading to suffocation or choking. It is so easy for a loose nappy sack to blow on to a babies face resulting in suffocation.

“We want to see all retailers including warning labels on the front of their nappy sacks packaging, to let parents know to keep them out of reach of babies at all times – this includes storing them away from cots and changing tables. Nappy sacks produced on a roll would also help to reduce the risks of having loose nappy sacks around the changing area.”

Morrisons is one of the first retailers to work towards changing the packaging of products to include the new warning messages in 2018.

Paul Broadhead, technical manager at Morrisons, said: “The safety of all our customers and their children is our top priority which is why we’re making the changes to the labelling on our packs.”

David Bolton, retail products policy adviser at the British Retail Consortium, said: “BRC members recognise the serious risks that can arise around the use and storage of plastic nappy sacks. We have been happy to work closely with RoSPA in developing a guide to the clear, consistent labelling of nappy sacks to help customers in their safe use and help prevent further incidents.”

Little Maison Amison was aged just seven months when he was killed by a nappy sack in 2013. To read his story, see www.rospa.com/your-stories/march-2016/maison/

For more information on the guidelines, see www.rospa.com/campaigns-fundraising/current/nappy-sacks/

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