May 30, 2024

British parks could lose their swings because of EU health and safety rules

“We are confident local children and visitors alike will love the new facilities.”

The move has sparked fears that the same EU regulation, which dates back to 1999, will mean swings disappearing in more British parks.

Dr Amanda Gummer, the chairman of the Association of Play Industries (API) and a psychologist, said it was “a shame” for children that the swing was being removed in Beer, while stressing that having safe, well-designed inclusive playgrounds was vital for children’s mental health.

She said she was aware of other cases of “not just swings but faulty equipment that hasn’t been installed properly” being removed from British playgrounds because of the EU rules.

She said councils who conformed to the strict rules were able to protect themselves from legal action, explaining: “Obviously, if kids get injured and they haven’t followed those standards, the council and possibly the installers would be liable for the claim.”

“We would be risking our kids’ safety if we compromised the standards,” Ms Gummer said, adding that most councils would say that they expect those standards to be adhered to.

Courts view rules as good practice

David Yearly, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said there was a large amount of health and safety legislation in place “to ensure users do not come into contact with other users, or with parts of the structure”.

Britain helped create the European rules on playground safety more than 20 years ago and, since they were incorporated post-Brexit, they have become the default British standard of safety.

They are not mandatory but the courts regard them as evidence of good practice in claims for negligence and many school and public park tenders now require such compliance.

Among the rules are that traditional “to and fro” swings must have a seat ground clearance of 350mm in the rest position or 400mm for a tyre seat, and seats will have no peak values of acceleration that are greater than 50 grams or an average surface compression of more than 90 newton metres.

The major playground manufacturers in Britain are among the API’s 60 members, including most used by councils, meaning they align with the EU rules.

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