Ensure that packaging is safe and easy to open

Rationale

All packaging should meet basic safety standards. People with limited hand strength or dexterity may also have difficulty opening fixings that are ‘fiddly’. Packaging that requires excessive force or the use of additional tools (for example a pair of scissors) can be difficult or impossible to open and may cause users to damage the contained parts. Relying on touch to open packaging also has implications for how easy it is to open. Any mechanism that requires visual instructions will be problematic. People who are blind locate items by touch, so will have difficulty avoiding touching potentially hazardous objects such as staples.

Directions and techniques

Ensure that packaging is safe (high priority)

Packaging should not contain materials that may cause injury, such as staples.

Ensure that packaging is easy to open (high priority)

Packaging should be designed in such a way that it is easy to open. For example, perforations in plastic or paper packaging can assist in easily tearing it open.

How you could test for this

Run user tests with a wide range of users, including older people, people with disabilities and people with low literacy. Ask each person to open the packaging and retrieve the contents without being given any instructions other than those provided on the packaging itself. Most users should be able to do this effectively, within a reasonable time and without frustration. Find out how easy the users found it and note any particular difficulties that could be addressed by a modification in design or materials.

Suitable test methods for ease of opening are described in detail in CEN Technical Specification 15945 ‘Packaging Ease of opening Criteria and test method for evaluating consumer packaging’.

This test could be included as part of more general user trials encompassing the whole process of unpacking, setting up and learning to use the equipment. The most realistic and informative results will be obtained by carrying out these trials in the users’ normal domestic environments. The procedural issues that are involved with this type of testing and the skills involved in designing and running meaningful tests may require engaging experienced professionals to carry out the trials.