Do you know you are liable for your playground?

22 March 2021

We were sad to find out from ROSPA that there are approximately 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds each year which result in a hospital visit. As members of both ROSPA and the API, we take safety very seriously indeed. But it was still a surprise to find out that this many incidents occur whether because of poor equipment design or failure to comply with Standards, poor design and layout, unsuitable equipment for the intended age group, incorrect installation, poor inspection or poor maintenance, as well as user issues like lack of supervision, 'misuse' of equipment, unsuitable clothes or weather conditions.


Of course, you can’t prevent every incident from occurring but do you know that Playground Managers could be sued for negligence if they fail to take reasonable care to ensure their playgrounds are safe and avoid accidents they could reasonably have foreseen would happen? An example of this would be an accident which occurred from failing to maintain the protective surface which had been provided under equipment or, when a swing set collapsed.


One of the big challenges at the moment is that, with ongoing lockdowns, furloughed employees and disruption, as well as winter weather, maintenance may well have taken a back seat in terms of priorities. Whether you’re in a school or part of the Parish Council, this applies to you and we want to help!


Here at Playforce we want to make sure you’re aware of the risks as well as your obligations. We’ve collected together some information shared by ROSPA as well as some suggestions for ways you can work to reduce the risk and keep on top of playground maintenance.  We’ve also included some things to think about if you’re planning a playground project or adding to existing equipment.


Our top tips for keeping children safe on your playground equipment
 The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 recommends that owners and managers of premises should undertake a risk assessment of their facilities - this includes the children's playground. We think this is an important thing to do before you let children back onto play equipment, after the winter and lockdown break. You can read more about this, and ROSPA’s Risk Assessment here. We also offer a number of Play Inspection packages here at Playforce, including our Annual Inspection Package. Find out more about this here.
2. In addition to this one-off risk assessment you should consider doing regular, routine inspections. Here are some suggestions from ROSPA as to how to do these. The regular check of the children's playground is intended to be quick and simple. Its primary function is to identify faults or dangers arising from vandalism or breakage. If you’d like some advice on this, or training on how to deliver it, contact our specialists today.


3. In addition to regular inspections we always recommend setting out a protocol for how you’re going to record risks and areas for improvement, as well as handle maintenance. ROSPA has made some great suggestions for things to think about here.


4. Making sure you’re on top of training and double checking maintenance is important. We’ve produced some guidance videos here to help you with this and all areas of aftercare. We can also help you with any repairs and managing your warranties, here.


Of course this doesn’t only apply to existing equipment. When you’re planning a new playground, or adding to your existing one you might want to consider the following:
1. Obtain professional design and layout advice. If you want some tips on how to choose the right playground equipment company, we’ve shared our thoughts here.
2. Select equipment and surfacing which meets the Standards.
3. Ensure it is installed by a competent person in accordance with the British Standard EN1176.
4. Have a post-installation inspection carried out by an independent body - like us!
5. And we’re sure we don’t need to tell you that there are added considerations post-COVID19. You can read about this here.


If you’d like some help managing your liabilities and risk you can talk to one of our specialists today or call us on 01604 261690 to book your inspection today.

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