It is with an inward sigh that I share the news that once again, the US Standards body ASTM is considering a proposal to adopt stricter requirements for playground surfacing.
As regular readers will know, I have spoken out against this proposal several times. I was relieved to see its rejection last year, and can see no good reason for it to return. I urge anyone with influence within ASTM to take appropriate action (ballot no. F08 (16-06) for ASTM subcommittee F08.63 and main committee F08).
My long-time collaborator Bernard Spiegal posted a succinct piece last week on the topic. The Guardian editorial on cycle helmets he quotes makes a crucial point: there are rarely simple answers to questions about public risk. We have to talk about values, and we have to accept that humans are complex, contradictory creatures.
As Spiegal points out, risk benefit assessment is a tool that, while simple in form, recognises the complexity of judgements about risk. It is explicit about the need for clarity and consensus about values.
By the way, if you are interested in cycle helmets – and cycling – you may like to download a report on cycling and children and young people I wrote for the National Children’s Bureau in 2005. It includes a discussion of cycle helmet safety in which I tried to do justice to the complexity of this emotive issue.
A medical study [pdf link] has just been published that looks at hospital emergency department (ED) visits for concussions (or to use the clinical term, traumatic brain injuries or TBIs) to children arising from playground incidents in the USA.
My aim in this post is to give a summary of the study and to scrutinize some of its conclusions. I plan in a future post to discuss its wider implications.
The study used data from a national injury surveillance system to work out injury rates for each year between 2001 and 2013. It also looked at whether or not children were admitted to hospital and the playground equipment involved, amongst other factors, and it analysed the data for trends. It claims to be the first national study on playground-related TBIs since 1999.
Posted in Health, playground, Risk
Tagged ASTM, health, injury, injury prevention, playground, playground safety, public health, Risk, USA
American safety standards agency ASTM is considering a flawed new proposal – very similar to one rejected a few months ago – in a continued attempt to ratchet up requirements for playground surfacing. This in spite of growing calls for a wider, more transparent and thoughtful debate on the role and influence of playground standards.
Photo credit: Martin Maudsley
ASTM’s proposal to tighten up impact absorbency standards for playground surfacing has been defeated. The proposal did not receive enough support from members of the relevant committee even to be considered at its meeting in California last week. It has been widely criticized here and elsewhere, including in this article by leading Canadian accident prevention experts. Continue reading
How many children in Canada die each year as a result of equipment-related injuries on school and public playgrounds? The question is blunt, but important. As I have noted before, the safety standards body ASTM is right now voting on a proposal to make one of its key play equipment standards – for safety surfacing – more stringent, arguing that the risk of serious injuries and fatalities from falls in playgrounds is too high.
Leading child injury prevention researchers at the British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit have today called on ASTM to put on hold its proposal to tighten playground surfacing standards.
The call is in an article written by Associate Profs Mariana Brussoni and Ian Pike of the Unit, along with Associate Prof Alison Macpherson of the School of Kinesiology & Health Science at York University. Between them, the authors have decades of research experience in child injury prevention.
This post shares a most helpful paper on playground surfacing from David Ball, Professor of Risk Management and a long-term collaborator of mine. It is taken from the website of our mutual collaborator Bernard Spiegal.
As Bernard says, the value of David’s paper is that it places the playground surfacing debate in the wider context of social values and policy. What is more, it does this in a clear, concise, balanced and thoughtful way. It also offers some helpful historical insights. It should be of interest to anyone who wants to get a wider perspective on this complex topic.
I reprint in full an important and helpful paper by David Ball, Professor of Risk Management at the Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management. The paper, ‘Observations on Impact Attenuation Criteria for Playground Surfaces, discusses some of the questions and tensions that inevitably arise whenever risk management decisions need to be made.
The paper – prompted by the American Society for Testing and Materials’ (ASTM) proposal to revise downwards the Head Impact Criterion for playground impact absorbing surfacing – is of wide relevance in that it sets out a way of thinking about risk in the context of wider social policy goals. I urge anyone involved in making decisions about children and teenagers’ play and learning to read the succinct and clear paper that follows.
The paper has been sent to ASTM.
Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management
OBSERVATIONS ON IMPACT ATTENUATION CRITERIA FOR PLAYGROUND SURFACING
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