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Airsoft eye and face protectors withdrawn from market

21.3.2014 9.00
Press release

The Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) has withdrawn from the Finnish market seven non-conforming eye and face protectors used in airsoft gaming. During its surveillance project, Tukes commissioned tests for nine face protectors and protective goggles with plastic or mesh screens. Several deficiencies were found with the protectors' labelling and instructions for use; four products lacked the CE marking, for example. One product had a structural flaw that could be hazardous to users. None of the operators could present the necessary documents for the products.

Airsoft guns are used in a combat game in which opponents are eliminated by shooting them with plastic pellets. According to Product Safety Engineer Katri Sihvola from Tukes, the market surveillance project results indicate that the operators are not familiar with requirements for personal protective equipment. It was discovered that even products labelled as toys were sold as face protectors for use in airsoft gaming.

Eye and face protectors used in airsoft gaming are considered personal protective equipment, which denotes a device, equipment or protective clothing that has been designed to be worn by individuals for protection against one or more health and safety hazards. Personal protective equipment on the market must comply with European safety requirements. It must include, for example, a CE marking and instructions for use in Finnish and Swedish.  With the exception of protective equipment intended to shield the user from minor danger, personal protective equipment, such as eye and face protectors used for airsoft gaming, must undergo an EC type-examination by a notified inspection body. Only the manufacturer or a representative operating in the European Economic Area and authorised by the manufacturer can commission the EC type-examination. The notified body then issues an EC type-examination certificate for protective equipment that conforms to the requirements. Prior to placing the protectors on the market, the manufacturer or its authorised representative must prepare an EC declaration of conformity. The importer is considered the personal protective equipment's manufacturer if the importer places the protector on the market under its own name or brand. In such a case, the manufacturer's obligations apply to the importer.

The Consumer Safety Act (920/2011) of Finland applies to market surveillance of personal protective equipment for consumer use. Under the Act, consumer goods may be withdrawn from the market if they do not have the CE marking required by law, or the marking does not comply with the requirements. If Tukes finds that a product does not bear the CE marking, it will order the operator to withdraw the product from the market.

Authorities do not verify the safety of personal protective equipment in advance. Operators – manufacturers, distributors and importers – are responsible for selling only such eye and face protectors that are in conformity with requirements. Tukes requires operators to familiarise themselves with the requirements regarding personal protective equipment and to ensure that they sell only conforming products that are accompanied by appropriate instructions for use in Finnish and in Swedish. Documents indicating conformity of the equipment, such as the EC type-examination certificate and EC declaration of conformity, must be presented to the surveillance authority upon request.

When buying eye and face protectors for airsoft gaming, consumers should check that:

  • The product has a CE marking.
  • The product is accompanied by instructions for use in Finnish and Swedish stating that the product is suitable for airsoft gaming. Instructions should include guidelines on care and maintenance of the protector. Additionally, the instructions should include details of the notified inspection body that has carried out the EC type-examination on the product.
  • The product and instructions include reference to standard EN 166.
  • The protector fits the user after any necessary adjustment and does not limit the user's field of vision.

Image. Eye and face protectors withdrawn from the Finnish market.

Further information:
Product Safety Engineer Katri Sihvola, tel. +358 29 5052 197,
e-mail: [email protected]