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Are there laws, covering umbrella tip designs, or, eye injury hazards in public, to reduce the possibility of eye injuries in public ?

  • In the European Union
  • In the U.S.
  • In the U.K.

Usually, umbrella tip designs seem to vary from tiny metal balls on the tips, to slightly large plastic safety tips on the ends. I assume there are no umbrella tips which are actually spike shaped, however, I am not sure.
- In my opinion, a legal requirement for slightly large rounded plastic safety tips on the ends (well fixed) would be an ideal law, although theoretically, any umbrella tip design could cause an eye injury at the right speed and angle.

I think that maybe in previous eras like the 1960's, it may not have been totally rare for people to be admitted to emergency rooms for eye injuries caused by umbrella tips.
However, my internet searching for current day statistics got me no results.

What if someone makes or buys an umbrella which has 'very prominent' metal spikes on the tips, and blinds someone, are there any laws covering this.

(Obviously, it is not just umbrellas that are noticeable eye injury hazards in public, there are a lot of things, however, on rainy days, for 'some' people, getting from point a to point b can take them more that double the time due to umbrellas. Stringent laws on umbrella tip designs, or, outlawing umbrellas in favor of shower jackets and rain hats and rain goggles could be given consideration, however, since I cannot find any statistics on eye injuries from umbrellas, I don't know what sort of validity this would have.)

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  • I cannot find any anti-umbrella groups or websites, which is surprising, if there are any, they would be very useful sources for statistics
    – infomtn
    Feb 10, 2022 at 19:04
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    With respect: I don't find that surprising at all. Feb 10, 2022 at 19:30
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    Rather than "laws" you might ask about "legal precedent." It could be a standard built from previous negligence / product liability lawsuits and fear of such. Also, there is a wide array of manufactured items with sharp protrusions, some necessary (knives for example), and the law is a matter of warning labels and responsibility falling on a person who misuses the object.
    – kleinerde
    Feb 10, 2022 at 20:26
  • yes, "legal precedent" is the other option, however, I am looking at it from the perspective of prevention of accidents, in other words, the possibility of fining people who have umbrellas that don't comply, this seems to be an area that people either don't care enough about or it is too difficult for various reasons, and yet everyday people are fined etc for all sorts of other things that seem less important
    – infomtn
    Feb 11, 2022 at 0:05
  • "I think that maybe in previous eras...it may not have been totally rare for people to be admitted to emergency rooms for eye injuries caused by umbrella tips": that's pretty speculative. Surely in litigious places like the US, if there were significant rates of these injuries, insurers would know, and product-safety engineers would have been engaged. The fact that they haven't, and that I've never heard of such injuries (even after an internet search (which turned up some injuries from wind-blown beach umbrellas and an umbrella used as a weapon) suggests that this isn't much of a problem.
    – phoog
    Feb 15, 2022 at 20:21

1 Answer 1

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There are laws about consumer product safety that are not specific to umbrellas. In the EU, and including the UK for the time being unless its laws diverge, the framework is given in the General Product Safety Directive of 3 December 2001. Its preamble notes that

It is very difficult to adopt Community legislation for every product which exists or which may be developed

and so the Directive exists as a catch-all for products that aren't specifically covered elsewhere. As there is no Umbrella Tips Directive, here we are. The UK implementation was the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

Some children's umbrellas will be covered by the Toy Safety Directive of 2009 instead, and in the UK that is the Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011.

The GPSD regime is quite general and its definition of a "safe product" is to be interpreted in the context of its marketing, likely uses, accompanying instructions, likelihood of degradation over time, and so forth. The TSD does have some more specific rules, such as that protruding points and edges of toys should be designed so as to reduce the likelihood of injury as much as possible. But this too is subject to contextual interpretation, and there is no direct rule saying how spiky the spikes can be, for example.

Note that regarding umbrella safety, it's not just about the pointy bits.

  • Ribs may be sharp, and catch fingers when the umbrella is being folded
  • Spring-loaded mechanisms may cause the umbrella to unfold violently
  • The fabric may be toxic
  • If the handle is hard to grip, then it might blow out of my hands and injure somebody
  • etc.

If there are your proposed safety balls on the end of the ribs:

  • They could fall off to leave an even sharper fixture than in conventional umbrellas
  • They could be unscrewed and swallowed by a child
  • They could shatter into little pieces when I accidentally whack the umbrella against a wall, and the little pieces might get in my eye
  • etc

What I mean to say is that it's not just about requiring a particular mechanism, but there are all sorts of things to think about in how the requirement is phrased. All of these are already implicitly dealt with by the current safety regime. Moreover, it can be adapted to changing technology and circumstances more easily than if it were fixed in primary legislation. So it is, with respect, not completely obvious that a law about umbrella tips would do the job better than the existing regulatory situation.

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