Avoiding accidents in the playground — what can we do?

Sarah Lifestyle

Going to the playground is a great day out for all, it gives children the chance to explore risk and make new friends. But what happens when this risk is all too much?

We take a look at what we can do to reduce this risk with lawn top dressing retailer, Compost Direct:

How safe are our playgrounds?

There hasn’t been a great amount of research conducted surrounding the safety levels of playgrounds currently. The few studies that have been carried out provide us with some insight into the situation.

When Play England carried out their own research, they uncovered some interesting facts. They discovered that playing sport can actually pose more risk to a child than the playground. For example, rugby has the highest non-fatal accident rate per 100,000 hours of exposure, with roughly 280 incidents. Football and hockey are the next most dangerous, with approximately 130 and 90 incidents respectively. In comparison, public playgrounds

Parents and guardians shouldn’t assume that all playgrounds have been thoroughly safety checked by official authorities. Hotels, restaurants and public houses are creating playgrounds as part of their businesses too, and this is where many accidents are reported. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Health and Safety Advisory Group suggested that these accidents were due to incorrect design and layout, poor inspection and maintenance, unsuitable clothing and lack of adult supervision amongst others.

Is there anything that we can do?

As parents, business owners or members of the council, there are a few actions that we can take to lower the risk of playgrounds.

As a council or business

Everyone should understand that not all accidents are avoidable — children enjoy exploring and often this does lead to the odd fall or bump. Playground designers cannot be overly safety conscious when deciding how a playground should look or else the adventures and challenges that children enjoy in a play area will be eliminated. However, a well-designed playground will not raise any additional hazards for children and will encourage safe play.

When designing a playground, the accessibility of the area must be carefully considered. Parents with pushchairs must be able to navigate around the park to watch their children, disabled people and children must be able to enjoy the area and emergency services must be able to reach the play zone in the case of an accident.

Another evaluation to be made is the materials that are used to create the apparatus and surfaces in the play area. Hard surfaces should be non-slip, especially in rain and adverse weather conditions as this is a common cause of accidents. Impact absorbing surfacing should be fitted around all apparatus to reduce injury level in the case of a fall. This could be in the form of play bark (bark chippings) or sand. Surfaces should be level too, with adequate opportunity for drainage to reduce risk of corrosion on any of the equipment.

As parents and guardians

A key thing that parents and guardians can do is to keep their child under supervision. Also, be cautious of older and younger children playing together. This can lead to bullying or your child feeling uncomfortable when they are playing. In this situation, encourage your child to play on another piece of equipment and suggest to the appropriate authority that segregated areas could be beneficial. Keep an eye out for any litter too which may be harmful. For example, cigarette dumps, alcohol bottles or broken glass.

Always remind your child of the rules of road safety. Although playgrounds should not be placed next to a road, often children can wander off and put themselves in a dangerous situation. It’s understandable that parents cannot watch their children at all times and it is settling to know that your children are aware of the Green Cross Code if they come to a roadside.

Be proactive when you are at the playground. You have the power to prevent future actions occurring by reporting any problem you come across to the local authorities. Ask your children about their experiences too after they have been playing; they might have come across something that you did not notice.