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Training on Safety Assessment and Management for New and Innovative Children’s Products
Start date: Sep 1, 2014, End date: Oct 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Due to the growing internationalisation and globalised competition, this industry is forced to continuously develop new products and innovate in order to maintain the share of the market and the business activity. Along with this need to continuously generate innovative products, the volume of the internal market legislation and technical specifications for children’s products as industrial products are also constantly changing and increasing. Enterprises, particularly SMEs, do not have the resources to know new regulations and standards and adapt their products to these new guidelines in advance, which has negative effects on the competitiveness of European SMEs. The future European legislative framework on product safety will include an obligation for manufacturers to carry out a risk analysis in the design phase and to document the solutions adopted to mitigate such risks. The identification and management of the risks of a product can only be carried out from the base of a broad knowledge of different issues concerning child safety. As a result, companies in the children’s products industry shall not only innovate and come up with new products, but also adopt and maintain a strong quality and safety culture which is found to be a critical element in ensuring continuous attention to product safety issues. The lack of resources and knowledge, especially in SMEs, which stand for 95 % of total industry of children’s products, means that companies fail to assess product safety of such new and innovative products in a holistic manner, which leads to a vital problem for the industry in terms of product risk assessment and undermines their competitiveness as a result. Consumer associations are the other weak stakeholder: according to the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on a Consumer Program 2014-2020, one of the main issues to be addressed is the insufficient capacity of consumer organisations, especially the lack of resources and specialists, in the new Member States in particular. The disproportion between the investment capacity (and negotiating power) of some stakeholders and that of societal stakeholders as consumer organisations affects the quality of the consensus achieved in Technical Committees for Standardization regarding product safety issues. As a result of Project SAMNIC, it will be obtain the SAMNIC MOOC. This is an online course with unlimited participation and open access via the Internet on children’s product safety tailored to real needs of industry and consumer associations. This tool will provide interactive forums for users that help build a community for the industry, consumers’ associations, trainers and other stakeholders involved in child safety. SAMNIC MOOC is aimed at key staff of SME's and consumers’ associations (technical staff, quality team, designers...) so as to provide training on safety and risks on children's products as to serve as platform for exchanging experience and collaborative learning between all stakeholders involved in children's product safety (consumers, industry, research centres, universities and consumer authorities). Four different countries (Belgium, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic) enclosing universities as VET providers, a high number of companies mainly SMEs of the children’s products sector, a research centre and an EU-wide consumer association, participate in the project. The new knowledge and skills acquired through the multi-language SAMNIC platform will enhance: - SMEs technicians’ capacity to assess the safety and risk aspects of the products that they develop and put in the market; it will also establish an organized and reliable control system, minimizing costs and resources. - the capacity of staff from national consumer associations. This will provide some expertise to consumers organizations and help them to increase their participation on European consumer policy . In this way they will be able to participate in technical committees in charge of developing safety standards at national and European levels to defend consumer’s interests and compensating for the lack of balance with industry associations which enjoys vastly superior resources. Beyond the project lifetime, partners will provide specific updated training to qualify new tutors and consultants at the organizations facilitating the course in order to enable facilitators to act as tutors and not always depend on content experts at every edition of the course.

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