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Fidget spinners have been labeled as a tool to help you focus, a symbol of revolution, hypnotic, and in some cases, a hazard. Yet public interest continues to revolve around these simple toys.

Though they may have seemed like a passing craze a few months ago, new and flashier designs have kept them in demand. What started as an unsophisticated design – two or three-prongs with a bearing at the center allowing the toy to spin around a center pad – has morphed into a slew of flashier, more complex spinners that bring with them new safety risks and concerns.

How Safe are Fidget Spinner Toys? Part I

New Features

As is the case with many fad items, the features of the fidget spinner have rapidly expanded as manufacturers look to hold public interest and attract new customers. Bluetooth speakers, USB drives, blinking lights, and even spinners with sharp edges and retractable blades, are a few of the new flashy features. Aside from making fidget spinners even more amusing and distracting, they also increase the potential for something to go wrong.

New Hazards

As the list of features has grown, so has the list of hazards and potential design flaws associated with fidget spinners. Choking remains an area of concern as fidget become more complex requiring more small pieces and in some cases batteries. The use of low-quality materials, in some cases, can lead to these pieces coming lose and posing a risk to small children.

The increased risk of fire has also become a concern due to defective designs and poorly sourced re-chargeable lithium-ion batteries. Multiple instances have been reported of spinners overheating while charging, and even catching fire in some cases.

New Precautions

To reduce the risk of fire, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned owners not to only charge devices with the cable they came with. They also caution against allowing young children to play with fidget spinners, because of the danger of choking.

U.S. retailers have also started to hold fidget spinner manufacturers accountable for weak safety standards. Some retailers are now requiring that manufacturers provide test reports from a CPSC-approved lab demonstrating their compliance with testing standard ASTM F963-16 for the U.S. marketplace.

UL’s Expertise

UL’s team of quality assurance experts support the toy manufacturing industry’s drive to bring safer products to the world market. In addition to UL’s unmatched toy safety expertise, our extensive testing and depth of knowledge surrounding lithium-ion and other batteries is a unique asset. Products bearing the UL Toy Safety Certification Mark are held to the highest quality and safety standards for the youngest consumers.

UL can help retailers and manufacturers mitigate the risks associated with global sourcing to protect brand reputation and build consumer loyalty. To learn more, visit us at UL​.com.