Playground Risk? A UK analysis

One hears a great deal about the assumed risk of playgrounds, but rarely are the statistics given, even more rarely analyzed or compared to other childhood risk factors.

Here is a reasonable analysis of the problem from the UK:

How risky is play? Should we make sure that every risk to children’s health and safety is managed away? How should playground providers reflect the threat of possible legal action? A check on the data about playground accidents and children’s injuries produces some interesting results:

Playing in playgrounds is a relatively low risk children’s activity
Less than 2% of childhood accidents treated in hospital involve playground accidents
Fatalities in playgrounds are extremely rare
There is one playground fatality every three or four years
This compares to over 100 child pedestrian fatalities per year
And over 500 child fatalities from accidents overall.

However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says that there are 40,000 child injuries at playgrounds each year. The data above suggests that the vast majority of these must be minor.

RoSPA does though indicate that it believes that measures taken to ensure safety should not take the challenge out of play in open spaces:

RoSPA strongly believes that these areas should be “as safe as necessary – not as safe as possible”


One Response to “Playground Risk? A UK analysis”

  1. West Coast Island Gardener said:

    I lament the loss of the see-saw; giant garden swings ;and that big multiple rider dragon boat thing -what the heck was it called? Even the faithful old merry go round is gone from our parks.

    I don’t remember any of my play fellows getting hurt – we survived. Now children play on computers and their health is at risk in other ways.

    Maybe one day a law suit against Parks for making kids obese by taking away those compelling rides will bring the rides back again.

    September 18, 2008 at 1:45 am

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