CE Marking in Boardgames Advice
Updated: Jun 1
Updated 1st June 2020:
This blog will talk about certain forms which you need to fill out in order to put a CE mark on your game. Since originally posting it the links to the British Toy and Hobby association resources are no longer free. Please check out our blog CE Marking Advice: Technical Documentation for new resources.
Updated 27th April 2018 to include EN71-3:2013 and includes the latest changes to EN testing regulations.
The following Blog is intended as a guide for independent games developers concerned about safety marking on card and board games. Firstly let me say I have no relevant qualifications whatsoever and my opinion should be taken on such a basis. However, I'm fairly good at interpreting guide lines and have some professional experience of safety assessments. Properly qualified advice can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/toy-manufacturers-and-their-responsibilities (UK government advice)
http://www.btha.co.uk/toy-safety/btha-guidance-documents/toy-safety-directive/ (British Toy and Hobby Association)
Also search for: Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC which is the document that you will need to comply with.
The following advice is based on the assumption that you intend to sell your game in Europe and that it involves no moving parts or chemicals.
First of all your primary safety marking is the CE mark, the British Kite Mark is now only available to very specific products and your boardgame is almost certainly not one. It also almost certainly does qualify as a toy needing CE marking. Unless your game is a puzzle with over 500 pieces or people can ride on it then it is defined by CE marking as a toy. You still need a CE mark even if your target audience is 14+ years old, and you put on the not suitable for under 3s mark, these just make justifying your CE mark a little easier. Unlike the British Kite Mark no body awards a CE mark, you apply it to your product and then have a responsibility to maintain the records that justify it. If those records are judged incomplete or missing and you have placed a CE mark on your product then you face very serious penalties. This advice is based upon Toy Safety Directive 2009/48/EC and those uncertain of any elements should refer there directly.
There are three testing protocols likely to refer to your game. Any worthwhile third party testing facility will be familiar with them as listed in Annex 2: Particular Safety requirements. The first refers to physical and mechanical properties: EN 71-1:2014, which ensures that no part of the game poses a choking hazard or has dangerous edges even after deformation or destruction. As stated previously you still need to show your game does not constitute a choking hazard even if directed solely at adults. EN 71-2:2011+A1:2014 tests for flammability issues. EN71-3:2013+A1:2014 which tests for Migration of Elements essentially ensures that none of the finish on cards, counters etc will poison anyone even if they suck or chew on them. Ensuring your game is tested to fulfill these three directives should largely cover you unless your game contains liquids, goos, brittle elements, powders, or scents, loose or contained. I suggest you have a third party lab test for them. You need to retain and maintain the testing records which may be based on a single random sample.
You need to make a "Bill of Materials and Substance". As a game designer you count as a manufacturer and as such must complete and retain all such records. It is not the responsibility solely of any other party. Again so long as your game contains none of the elements mentioned above, particularly powders, liquids, gels or fragrances a simple Bill of Materials should be sufficient, available in the British Toy and Hobby Association Guidelines, part 3 page 9. This simply requires that you list the elements of your game and that they have been tested to the relevant standards.
The Bill of Materials will then form part of your technical documentation which should be a list of your name and address, testing protocols (EN 7 etc) and a description of your game's elements and features along with its intended age range and an image. A drawing will be needed if you include multi part or constructed elements but a photograph will be sufficient otherwise, so long as it can identify your game, it need not picture every specific element. The technical documentation should include a description of manufacture, which your printer or manufacturer should be able to give you a summary of, essentially the printing process such as digital lithograph etc., cutting, binding etc. Finally it requires an EC Declaration of Conformity which consists of:
1) an ID number, your barcode should do.
2) the name and address of your manufacturer, meaning the actual factory producing your product.
3) the statement: this Declaration of Conformity is issued under the sole responsibility of the manufacturer (meaning you as the designer).
4) the name of the game and the location of its attached image.
5) the statement: the object of the Declaration of Conformity described in 4 is in conformity with relevant Community Harmony Legislation.
signed by you with your position in relation to the game, your current geographical location and the date.
Last of all you need a safety assessment. It should include a list of any visible warnings, again the BTHA has a usable template in their guidance Part 4 page 10. Unless, again, you included strange elements this should consist of your identification, product identification, your address, the no under 3s warning and the CE mark. That aside the safety assessment should be a simple document including: the intended design and function, describe the elements generally and how they could possibly injure someone and what you have done to reduce that possibility. Remember that during the risk assessment nothing is inherently safe and that your testing is your main method of having reduced risk. Include an image or at least refer to the location of the attached image. Describe the intended user and likely play, what people will be doing with the elements you have provided and how they could possibly hurt themselves. Then describe how you have reduced that possibility to an acceptable level. List any materials that could form a risk and your risk reducing activity, again presumably your EN testing particularly in relation to flammability will form the majority of this response. Finally, list the likely play environment considering its sources of risk, showing how you have reduced that risk. Clearly portable or travel games have more to answer to here but at the very least try to acknowledge the possibility of overreaching on tables during moments of high excitement play (this is why many games will include the phrase "in easy reach of all players" in set up).
So, to reiterate, try to read the original guide lines and pay for proper third party testing. As a designer you have full responsibility for, and need to hold the paper work to justify, your own safety marking. These guidelines should hopefully assist you in so doing.