17th December 2020
Swings account for the most child injuries in play areas, followed by climbing frames then slides. However, don’t overlook the possibility of fencing and gates also creating a hazard, especially when it comes to trapping, crushing or even shearing off little fingers!
Of course, where children are concerned accidents are always a risk. They don’t always use equipment appropriately or take care of their own safety. However, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), poor or inappropriate equipment and below-par installation are still major management issues in this field.
The ROSPA reports that 40,000 children each year injure themselves on playgrounds to such an extent they need a hospital visit. How many more incidents go unreported? Which is why this organisation works so hard to encourage play area managers and specifiers to meet strict safety standards. The law backs up the ROSPA, and litigation is likely for anyone who fails to take reasonable steps to avoid accidents and manage risks.
There is a tendency to mitigate against the major hazards – such as falls, slips and trips – without due diligence to less obvious dangers, including the potential for children to get their fingers trapped.
If this is something you’ve not thoroughly covered in your risk assessments of equipment, then you are in breach of ROSPA safety standards. Don’t just consider the design and installation of play equipment though. Children can trap their fingers on one of the safety systems meant to protect them – the fencing and gates!
The ROSPA recommends the use of fencing in play areas to prevent finger traps and children from straying and to shield them from dogs and vehicles. However, entering and leaving play areas can be an issue if the design of the perimeter security measures leaves the way open for fingers to be placed in danger.
You don’t just risk a nasty crush injury on a little hand. Some inappropriately designed and installed gates create a shearing motion that could do serious damage, such as if a curious youngster pokes a hinge rather than an opening mechanism!
Specifying fences and gates for play areas must also take account of time and usage factors. A cheap fencing product that appears to cover safety issues can begin to throw up serious risks for small fingers when it starts to wear and distort.
These are all good reasons to choose Zaun‘s BowTop Play Playground Fencing, designed and engineered to match RoSPA guidelines and be BS 1722 part 9 compliant. The system gives an unobstructed view for anyone supervising play area users, and the spacing is crafted to avoid neck or wrist entrapment and to discourage climbing. Also, the value is in the detail. Every clamp bar, slide bolt and other accessory has been designed to prevent trapped or cut fingers. There is even the option of a slow close gate for parks, to avoid any and all body parts getting crushed! Which is something the ROSPA recommends.
The BMJ medical journal reports that most childhood finger injuries are in pre-school children and some are serious enough to require amputation. A surprising number of accidents are still happening in playgrounds and parks.