TORONTO - Child-resistant plastic closures may save children from injury but they often frustrate senior citizens who have little strength or dexterity. Groups in Canada and the United States are trying to make packaging makers and users more aware of this problem and are encouraging them to design products seniors can use easily without compromising safety.
Demographics promise the issue will become more important, said officials with the Canadian Seniors Packaging Advisory Council. One in 10 Canadians is more than 65 years old, but by the year 2010 one in five will be in that age category. Similar numbers probably apply to the U.S. population.
``We don't want to jeopardize child safety by removing [protective] closures,'' Karen Cuggy-Murphy, project manager for CASPAC of Toronto, said in an interview at Plast-Ex '95, held May 1-4 in Toronto.
The group promotes senior-friendly closures, labeling and other packaging features.
In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission will soon decide on revising child-safety closure tests to ensure the products are usable by seniors.
CPSC published proposed closure standards in the Federal Register in January and its commissioners will vote on the standards in the next few weeks,CPSC spokesman Ken Giles said in a May 5 telephone interview.
The tests would force closure manufacturers to make products that are easy for people aged 60-75 to use.
Cuggy-Murphy said industry has been receptive to CASPAC's concerns and a few companies have changed their packaging. She cited Procter & Gamble Co.'s new closure for Scope mouthwash as an example.
Pharmaceutical and household chemical firms, however, are not always easy to sell on new ideas.
Closure supplier Twinpak Inc. of Montreal developed a senior-friendly, child-resistant package a year ago but hasn't had any success convincing customers to use it, said Wolfgang Muller, the firm's general manager of its distribution business unit.
Muller said health-care product firms may be more receptive to packaging design changes if CPSC's proposed tests are approved.
The Packaging Association of Canada in Toronto will continue to promote senior-friendly packaging after CASPAC disappears in August when its federal funding runs out, said PAC spokeswoman Ann Van Sluytman. PAC has worked with CASPAC to make packaging firms more aware of seniors' concerns.