Children's Play Area Safety - The Hidden Dangers

2 August, 2013
Pat Perry

"Outdoor areas in pubs, restaurants, hotels and cafes can provide huge business benefits and offer great opportunities for customers to experience outdoor dining and family activities - and dare I say it, allow parents to stay for a little longer with the children amused. But if you provide play equipment for children in outdoor areas, it's important to pay attention to health and safety in these areas to reduce the risk of injury or accident." Pat Perry, Executive Chairman at leading health and safety consultants, Perry Scott Nash.

Below are a few tips to help ensure that all play equipment and play areas are safe, well maintained and where possible free from hazards.

A combination of the weather and the way children use the equipment can lead to hazardous conditions. In addition, equipment can be misused and vandalised by adults (and older children), particularly in late evenings. Equipment made defective in this way can then present a serious risk of injury to users when the equipment is once again open to the children it was intended for. To this end, daily visual checks are required prior to opening the play area. These should be recorded. Generally you need to ensure that:

  • The play area is free of broken glass, debris, animal faeces, etc.
  • Equipment is structurally sound and has no loose parts, broken parts, protruding nails, bolts, etc.
  • Entrances and exits to the equipment are safe and unobstructed
  • Absorbent surfaces are in place and undamaged e.g. soft bark, rubber matting
  • Hazard warning notices are displayed
  • Completed checklists are kept in a record book/file
  • Checks are carried out throughout the day as the state of the equipment can change
  • Parents are informed by advisory notice, that they are responsible for supervising their children
  • Glass etc. is not taken into play areas

The Legal bit:

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 applies to all premises in which people are employed and to which people have cause to visit etc., so outdoor play areas are covered by the requirements to ensure equipment is well maintained and safe to use.

The management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require Risk Assessments to be carried out and significant hazards from any activity reduced and the findings recorded. Faulty equipment or failure to have a safe system of work, etc., could lead to fines of up to £20,000 per offence. Failure to have adequate Risk Assessments carries a fine of up to £20,000.

If proceedings are taken in the Crown Court fines could be a lot higher so it is important to ensure you have suitable procedures in place.

Take action NOW to make your venue as safe as it can be for ALL of your customers.

For more information on this or other matters relating to health and safety in the workplace Contact Us.

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