Play safety standards to undergo changes

Bumps, bruises and even a broken limb are part of learning through play, indicate some proposed changes to safety standards for children's play equipment and surfacing.

Keith Dalton uses events to explain the changes to safety standards - photo: HW
Keith Dalton uses events to explain the changes to safety standards - photo: HW

Major revisions have been made to BS EN 1176 / 1177 - the Safety Standards for Children's Playground Equipment and Surfacing - and include the idea that play areas must provide a balance between safety and challenge.

The Play Inspection Company's managing director Keith Dalton, who is technical director of the Register of Playground Inspectors, said: "Children need to learn to cope with risk and this may lead to bumps, bruises and even occasionally a broken limb.

"This is one of the principal changes written in the standards. The aim of this standard is to prevent accidents with a disabling or fatal consequence - play areas need to provide a balance between safety and challenge."

The new standard was published on 31 July and Dalton has been running training events to raise awareness of the changes, along with Wicksteed Leisure's technical manager Rob Davies.

Davies explained to visitors at IoG Saltex that changes had been made to entrapment tests, as well as to definitions over climbing equipment, means of access and surfaces. He added that specific rules on grass surfaces had been written into the BS rules for the UK.

Dalton explained that the most important part of play area design was allowing children to take risks in a controlled environment.

"It can be used where the maximum fall height from equipment is less than 1.5m and the grass must have at least 150mm of soil under it."

It gives us another surface as well as the synthetic surfaces we already use," said Davies.


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