Eyes open when buying a school bag

New DIN standard for more safety

A satchel should be clearly visible, ergonomic – i.e. back-friendly – and of course functional. Parents can tell whether a satchel is all this by the GS mark and the note “corresponds to DIN standard 58124” when they buy it.

The DIN 58124 standard for school satchels has now been revised. Why? What has changed as a result?

Werner Sterk provides first-hand answers and information. Sterk heads the safety technology department of the KAN office and is deputy chairman of the DIN “Schulranzen” committee. The Commission for Occupational Health and Safety and Standardization (KAN) has the task of accompanying standardization work from the point of view of occupational health and safety and of ensuring that its interests are taken into account in standardization.

Werner Sterk provides answers to the new school bag standard DIN 58124

More and more school satchels are being sold which undermine the requirements of the DIN standard. Above all, the fluorescent light surfaces, which are important for visibility, are simply omitted. The manufacturers’ argument: the colours orange-red and yellow familiar from car warning vests do not really go well with a cool design. With the revision of the standard, we have looked for ways to better combine design and visibility requirements. The most important innovation is that the standard now allows further fluorescent colours such as yellow-green or pink. This gives the manufacturer more choice in the design of the schoolbag.

As far as visibility is concerned, reflector strips on the satchel that reflect the light, for example from car headlights, in the dark, are a good thing. But is that enough? What other “technical refinements” are there so that children can be seen better in traffic?

Good visibility of children in road traffic helps to prevent accidents. Reflectors are indispensable in the dark, but are not enough on their own. Equally important are large fluorescent surfaces at the back and sides of the satchel. They are particularly noticeable during the day and at dusk. Seen over the year, these are the times when primary school children are most frequently on the move.

What is the difference between fluorescent and reflective material?

Reflectors require a light source such as a car headlight, whose light they can reflect back. They therefore increase the warning effect in the dark very well. Fluorescent material, on the other hand, increases the warning effect during the day and at dusk without having to be illuminated. It has the fascinating property of intensifying the ambient light and shines even in low residual light.

The fitting before the purchase is the be-all and end-all, after all, the satchel must also fit well. But how can you tell if the satchel fits the child? And what do you have to pay special attention to when it comes to ergonomics?

The satchel must fit well both with a T-shirt and a thick jacket and must not slip from the shoulders. A chest strap, which also wants to be used, contributes to this. The back should be ergonomically shaped. It can be adapted to the back length of a number of models. The shoulder straps must not restrict the child’s neck. The satchel should not sit too low, but should not protrude beyond the shoulders. It is not important whether the satchel weighs a few grams more or less when empty. The weight of the packed satchel is relevant. Parents should therefore pay attention to whether the school supplies their children carry around with them are really needed every day.

Werner Sterk: Head of the Safety Engineering Department at the KAN Secretariat and Deputy Chairman of the DIN “Schulranzen” Committee.

The view into the satchel gives information whether the satchel is also functional. How should the subjects ideally be divided? And what else should I pay attention to?

The compartments should be arranged so that heavy objects can be placed close to the back. Other items such as water bottles and bread cans can be stowed in outside and side pockets. It is best to take them with you to try them on.

In summary: What should be paid special attention to before buying?

Parents should inform themselves before the purchase. They can read through consumer tests (e.g. Stiftung Warentest test or Öko-Test test). Competent advice in a shop that sells models from different manufacturers is also important. It should lead to the selection of a satchel that fits well and is equipped with reflective and fluorescent surfaces. Important: The satchel should please the child, but the design alone should not be the deciding factor. Safety first! If you buy a satchel according to DIN 58214, you are on the safe side here.

And what do parents do whose children wear yesterday’s satchels? Is this still justifiable or can we retrofit it?

If the satchel has kept the old standard, everything is fine. I find it difficult to retrofit fluorescent surfaces. It is best to ask the manufacturer directly. A warning vest for primary school children, which is also available with a hood, can help. Only: The vest is partially covered by the school bag and has to be put on daily. The child always has a satchel with him. Visibility is built in when the satchel complies with the DIN standard. So keep your eyes open when you buy!

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Christina Cherry
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