An alert and call for action – a new Standard threat to play provision | Bernard Spiegal

Traix 2015 playground surface test kitA swift reblog to add my voice to this call for action from my longtime collaborator, Bernard Spiegal. The immediate issue is a highly problematic proposal on surfacing from some of those involved in setting European standards for play equipment.


This is an alert. An alert to all those – across Europe and wider – where European play equipment and surfacing standards are held, or will be held, to apply.   A new Standard is being …

Source: An alert and call for action – a new Standard threat to play provision | Bernard Spiegal

6 responses to “An alert and call for action – a new Standard threat to play provision | Bernard Spiegal

  1. What are the actual proposals? Has the Play Safety Forum summarised the problem areas anywhere?

    • Hi Mick – the proposals have been circulated to the PSF, and they have been discussed. I am not sure if there is any summary online other than the comments Bernard made, and I am not aware of any other material online. The British Committee that feeds into the European one is also concerned.

  2. Mick (and anybody else), I can send you the document that sets out the proposed changes if you like.



  3. Is this not the pot calling the kettle black? This is a move to protect children in playgrounds and confirm that the expensive surfacing, synthetic, actually is below the 1000 HIC level, which is 18% risk of MAIS>4, severe (life-threatening with survival probable), and 3% risk MAIS>5 (critical and life-threatening). It is incredible that some of the opposition comes from the family associated with the Sutcliffe Swing Seat that was developed back in 1975 to be less than 50 g as a result of the findings of the Franklin Institute that head injuries are not likely to occur for impacts less than 50 g. This even went so far as to be incorporated into the EN1176 Standard. All for 1 to 3% of the injuries in playgrounds, while you fight against 68 to 75% of the playground injuries. Did anyone rally to the playground owners or was there a cry from the risky play advocates when owners were forced to spend millions of pounds, euros, dollars on any swing delivering less than 1000 HIC or 200 g. Time to give children a break. Pardon the pun.
    It is hard to believe that the UK, which was once a leader in playgrounds, has moved to being self-serving and lost all credibility with public health and play advocates around the world.

  4. Thanks for leaving a comment Rolf. We need to start with hard facts about the real risk, as I have argued before. Not the theoretical risk, but the real risk. We know from recent research that serious head injuries on playgrounds are very rare (a single child hospital admission per year in a city with a population of 700,000: the size of Memphis, TN).
    The risk of serious injury in playgrounds cannot be eliminated. The key question is what is reasonable and proportionate. Given the hard facts about playground injuries, it is not surprising that a number of national playground safety committees in Europe – not only the UK – share the view that the measures being proposed are not reasonable or proportionate.
    As for your last comment: I have no commercial interest in playground surfacing. Neither does Bernard (whose post I reblogged). You have a commercial interest in providing playground surfacing, and in providing playground surface testing services (correct me if I am wrong). I will leave it to other readers to judge who is being self-serving.

  5. July 16, 2016,
    Mr. Matthew Marshall, Program Manager,
    British Standards Institute,
    389 Chiswick High Road,
    W4 4AL
    United Kingdom
    Re: Changes to En1177
    Dear Mr. Matthew Marshall;
    I am writing to you in relation to the attempt that a few are making in relation to requesting that BSI oppose the inclusion of field testing as a requirement in the next revision of the EN1177 and I presume to write on behalf of the children and caregivers who are not aware that children are exposed to significant hazards with every visit to the playground. The change would be of great benefit to users and the owners of playgrounds, who have an expectation that the surfaces upon which children are falling will prevent “disabling or fatal consequences” when in fact this is not true and failure of a surface to meet the minimal requirements of EN1177 puts children at even greater risk.
    In the past you have written to ASTM demanding production of a peer reviewed paper that establishes that the injuries do actually exist and that head injuries are a debilitating injury. I take the pleasure in attaching 2 such recent papers, one from the US CDC and the other from York University, in Toronto, Canada. These not only confirm that injures from falls are on the increase, but also indicate that in relation to societal thresholds, the head injuries that are being sustained are under reported and of a disabling nature. The CDC points out that the field test in ASTM F1292 was adopted as an optional test in 1999 and without being a requirement has not moved the needle on injury reduction. Their point is the field testing is available and must be done. But you already knew this because you have a member of the Sutcliffe Group active in your industry, whose corporate history lays claim to causing no head injury with the Sutcliffe swing seat, based on the 1975 Franklin Institute work. This has been supported by the requirement in En1176-2 (2008) to perform a test to ensure that these swing seats to not impart more than 50g.
    To oppose field testing would be embarrassing to BSI taken that BSI was a major contributor and voted in favour of the recently published ISO TR20183, which includes a number of definitions and injury thresholds that would support the proposed changes and the protection of children in playgrounds through field testing of surfacing. Beyond the TR20183, there is the CEN Guide 14 and ISO Guide 50 and Cen TR16148 that would suggest confirmation that surfacing that minimally meets the EN1177 would be beneficial in meeting the scope of En1176 and EN1177.
    The argument that this is a unique change and will result in astronomical costs to owners is ludicrous. The CSA Z614, Chidren’s playspaces and equipment, has required field testing as the measure of compliance of the playground protective surfacing since 1998. Since this is the requirement of the standard, the volume of testing is quite high and compliance to the Standard has been mandated into many provincial, municipal, school board and private programs and contracts. Coupled to this cost consideration is that CSA Z614 in 2007 moved the fall height for structures from the deck or platform to the top of the barrier or guardrail, effectively being the same as lowering the HIC to 700 and leaving the fall height alone. Please note that in both Canada (CSA) and the United States (ASTM) there is no maximum fall height or limit to test height. These difference have not caused a ripple in the playground industry or ownership even though Armageddon was predicted. I dare say that on a per capita basis there are more playgrounds and play opportunities available to children in Canada than the UK. As a result playing the financial disaster card, is just “hot air” and Chicken Little saying the sky is falling.
    Standards, particularly those that are to prevent injury, should be embraced and applauded. In consideration of what standards should be, we do not have to go beyond the BSI website with;
    Standards affect all of us, every day of our lives. Whenever we use a product or service, there’s a good chance there’s a standard to cover it, whether we’re using a washing machine, mobile phone, playground or sports stadium, driving a car, paying bills, eating in a restaurant, making a complaint…there are standards for all kinds of things. Put simply, standards make things better: safer, higher quality and easier to use. But as a consumer you don’t just benefit from existing standards. You can also help shape tomorrow’s standards
    Note the inclusion of playgrounds.
    The prevention of injuries in playgrounds has evolved since the 1970s. First and foremost was the prevention of death. In the 1980s there was discussion of Severity Index of 1000, the median value for survival and non-survival in simulated auto accidents. Technology allowed the introduction of the HIC, with a threshold of 1000, which Cen TR16148 has demonstrated the probability of death being 10-15%. In the meantime the tolerable injury threshold has been modified to less than death and include serious injuries including concussions that also have debilitating outcomes. Improvements in technology have allowed for cost effective testing of surfaces in the field. The ability to field test has been in place since the late 1990s and injury quantity and severity have not decrease. The voluntary application of the field test moves the public health need to mandating the test. The ability of the protective surfacing to protect is the concern and this brings with it the need to test surfaces to ensure they are compliant.
    The upcoming change to En1177 to require testing of surfaces in the field is a step that fulfills the goal of standards as stated above.
    Yours truly,
    EVERPLAY International Inc.

    Per: Rolf Huber,

    c.c Adolf Russhold, convenor, CEN TC136/SC1/WG1

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