ARE INDOOR PLAYGROUNDS SAFE?
It has long been established that ‘risk’ has to be built into children’s play environments. lay is inherently risky as children seek to explore their world and environment and test the skills they will later rely on as adults.
However, as children have significantly less life experience, they are not always aware of possible dangers such as head injuries, broken bones or limb entrapment that could occur as they play. This means that equipment needs to protect children from these dangers. One of the perceived advantages of indoor playgrounds – whether this is soft play to trampoline parks, ninja warrior to parkour parks is their safety, but how true is this?
KEY REGULATIONS TO FOLLOW
Like anything, there are rigorous safety policies and procedures in place designed to ensure that equipment is safe such as the PAS: 5000 or BSEN 1176 Part 10. Naturally, House of Play’s equipment is compliant with all relevant legislation and often goes above and beyond to ensure that your business has equipment with the highest possible safety standards which is vital in the unfortunate event of any accident or incident.
Furthermore, thanks to our 25 years plus of experience, House of Play’s designs all come with safety in mind. For example, the netting that surrounds soft play centres House of Play design is a specific quality so that little hands can’t get caught.
Unfortunately, not all indoor playgrounds are ‘safe’. Despite the fact that it is a legal requirement to adhere to certain standards, cheap imported play equipment does not always have safety as a core design ethic. Equally, a poorly maintained and cleaned facility may well fail to comply with relevant standards.
As stated above, play equipment should be designed to protect children from injury as much as possible. To use the example of netting, if there are holes in it from wear and tear this can lead to limb entrapment or even the possibility of children falling from height! In this occurrence, it would be evident that inspections and/or remedial works were not undertaken. This would expose the business to a liability claim and, dependent upon the seriousness of the injury, could expose the owners and Directors to a personal liability as the Authorities do have, in certain circumstances, the ability to remove the ‘limited liability’ status of Directors, where it is clear that fiduciary duty has been breached.
IS YOUR INDOOR PLAYGROUND SAFE?
So, how can you tell if indoor playground is safe? Whilst accidents are always going to happen, there are indicators that sites have taken all necessary precautions to protect their customers from unnecessary risk. Good signs of thoughtful operators are that the play equipment looks clean, with ‘rules of play’ signage present and ideally, a certificate showcasing to the public when the site was last maintained. There should be no visible exposed holes in netting or foam with all features in use. Balls in the ball pit should be free of any broken or squashed balls as these can become sharp and be abrasive.
Observing the staff is another good sign – as part of the safety guidelines, checks should be constantly made. If staff seem vigilant and engaged with their work then it is probable that this is taking place. Finally, does the site seem well organised? There should be a certain amount of distance for items such as plug sockets, tables and chairs from play equipment – if things seem squashed or too close together, this is also likely to not be as safe as ideal.
If you are wanting operational advice on how to become a safer venue, a maintenance audit to inspect your business for necessary repairs or if you are wanting to set up an indoor playground with the best possible safety for your customers considered, please contact us on 01302 846876 and one of our team would be delighted to assist!