VIENNA, October 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
An International Conference on new accident findings concerning falls from playground equipment - with participation from ANEC, the European Consumer Voice in Standardization
The safety of our children in playgrounds was the focus of this conference, initiated by TÜV AUSTRIA and ANEC. TÜV AUSTRIA is an independent third-party inspection, testing and certification body and ANEC is the voice of European Consumers in Standardization.
Children fall and hurt themselves. They fall everywhere - at home, when cycling, skiing or skating and around traffic - it's an everyday mishap and the responsibility of parents and the legal framework.
But society views playground injuries differently; playground equipment should offer acceptable risks for learning to cope with falling and risk of falling, while lessening the serious consequences of such falls as far as possible. European Playground Standards EN1176 and EN1177 define a balance between the need to offer risk and the need to keep children safe from serious harm through technical safety requirements, based on the current state of knowledge as of 2008.
Newer research into fall injuries concerning safety limits for arm fractures and head injuries - particularly studies conducted in the USA, Canada and Australia - once more raises the question of whether our standards provide sufficient protection for both children and the parties responsible for applying the standards.
At the conference, critical research and new findings from tests for all kinds of playground surfaces was presented and discussed, with input from well-known experts and a high-level audience representing standardization, manufacturers, playground operators and inspectors, test houses and authorities.
The conclusion is clear: play is extremely important to a child's development and the fabric of any nation; however, serious to critical playground injuries are still occurring and have even increased over the past 30 years. The proportion of arm fractures is relatively high, as is the number of head injuries. Only fatal head injuries have thankfully become rare in modern playgrounds which comply with current standards. The prime contributor to these injuries is the impact with the surface under and around the playground. It is the performance of this surface that must be reconsidered in these standards if there is to be any chance of reducing the severity of injuries in the playground. To this end, the fall height for playground structures should reflect the height to which a child might reasonably climb, using the principle of reasonable foreseeable misuse. The impact attenuation values should furthermore be lowered to at a minimum reflect the safety performance of automobiles for children. Lastly, surfaces should be tested in the field to confirm that they will provide adequate protection.
Risk Benefit Analysis is an essential criterion for the balance between safety and suitable level of challenge and stimulation to all possible groups of users, and remains vital to making the necessary improvements for our standards.
Ing. Robert TERP
Head of Playgrounds, Sports and Recreation
Department of Machinery, Lifting and Handling Technology
SOURCE TUEV Austria