Health and Safety

Health and Safety Law in Skateparks and Wheelparks

Health and safety law requires that a risk assessment be carried out of playground equipment to identify what precautions should be taken to protect against harm. Part of the assessment process will involve deciding whether the equipment complies with the relevant standards. Of these, the principal one is BS EN14974 "Facilities for users of roller sports equipment", BS EN 1176 "Playground Equipment" is relevant in parts, but it is is 200 pages long and covers mainly general safety requirements, test methods and specific requirements for swings, slides, runways, carousels and rocking equipment. PAS 30 is also marginally relevant.

On occasions where the equipment was installed before the introduction of the recent standards, the assessment may indicate the need to do something, such as making amendments to equipment or replacing certain components.

Certain playgrounds may attract/be intended for particular groups of children, such as those who are disabled or highly active. In these cases more frequent maintenance inspections may be necessary because damage / wear and tear may occur more frequently and also because the consequences of using damaged equipment may be more serious.

Reference to accident records for a particular playground/play area may help in informing the
assessment and deciding on what additional safety precautions are necessary if any.

National bodies who are involved in developing and implementing regulations and guidelines in this field are members of The Play Safety Forum, a body made up of the National Playing Fields Association, Health & Safety Executive, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Local Government Association, PLAYLINK, Child Accident Prevention Trust, Institute of Sport and Recreation Management and the Pre-school Learning Alliance. All of these bodies have websites which may give useful information and contacts.

Action required by Play Providers
All play providers (eg local authorities (LAs), parish councils) installing or significantly refurbishing existing play facilities (this includes the equipment and the site) should ensure that they meet the requirements of the relevant EN and PAS Standards.

Providers should also carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment on the play facility as simple compliance with the EN standards does not guarantee compliance with health and safety legislation. They should take account of the siting of the playground for instance. Bodies such as RoSPA can assist with this process.

Providers also need to ensure that there are appropriate management systems in place to ensure that facilities are maintained in good order and that damage is repaired promptly.

Where providers are responsible for older facilities, they should carry out a risk assessment. They should use the results of the assessment to prioritise any renewals, refurbishment or removal of equipment.

Key Action Steps
• Carry out and record a risk assessment or review any existing assessment of the playground equipment.

• Give consideration to whether the equipment complies with the new standards or not and
what action is needed to make it comply.

• Take into account the typical usage of the equipment and likely damage / wear and tear
from previous inspection and maintenance records.

• Make reference to accident records and reports including incidents with the potential for a more serious outcome.

• Develop a prioritised action plan to address any deficiencies identified by assessments.