Child safety at outdoor play

Essential reading for all who manage childcare, educational, play, recreational and sports facilities.  

The wellbeing and mental health of our children has always been paramount, but the opportunity for activities, stimulation, exercise and learning through outdoor play is more critical now than ever, given the current lockdown regulations. This is just another reason why we need to ensure the outdoor experiences for our children are safe, so that any opportunities for outdoor play are maximised to support their health and wellbeing, without safety concerns.   

RoSPAThe Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents are the experts when it comes to guidance on preventing accidental injuryRoSPA estimates that there are around 40,000 injuries to children on playgrounds each year, which result in a hospital visit. 

Taking their lead combined with our expertise in perimeter protection, this blog shares safety information that is paramount when it comes to creating a safe environment for outdoor playspecifically where perimeter fencing is concerned.  

When it comes to the causes of accidents there is little to be done if it results from misuse, weather issues, inappropriate clothing or lack of supervision. However, with the right design and manufacturing of facilities that meet RoSPA  expectations for play areas, then  accidents can be brought down.

Obvious answers:

It goes without saying that management led causes of accidents can be eradicated by ensuring that the equipment selected: 

  • Has been designed to comply with the correct play safety standards 
  • Is suitable for the age group that will be using the facilities and child safe 
  • Is installed correctly 
  • Is maintained and inspected regularly  

When it comes to the first point listed above, we can advise, keep on reading! 

Considerations for railing safety design and choice of suitable perimeter railing: 

It goes without saying a good quality and well-designed fence is required which does not contain any safety hazards, as listed in EN 1176 – the play equipment standard. So what does a practical, attractive and play safe fencing system look like? 

  • Posts and rails to be at the right spacing as stated by RoSPA  to  ensure there are no possible child entrapments, specifically for head, neck and fingers. The Heras’ Tangorail TR800 is designed specifically with this in mind 
  • Minimum height of 1m (according to British Stands 1722). The Tangorail TR800 is available in heights of 900mm – 1800mm, but for outdoor play areas and facilities where children would be present, we always recommend the minimum of 1200mm.  
  • Suitable top design. You can imagine the potential accidents waiting to happen with spiked railings, barbed wire and fleur-de-lys split fence pales. The most suitable option we have found is a smooth bow top fencing design, as per the Tangorail TR800 option, no sharp edges or corners!  
  • Appropriate panel construction. Rigid panels are very common, however when it comes to sites that have uneven ground and tough terrain they would be very costly to install, as each panel would need to be tailored and made to fit. In this scenario it may be that costs could prove prohibitive and lead to unnecessary cutting of corners elsewhere. Luckily, the Tangorail system eliminates all of these issues due to its unique self-raking system. The tubular bars are all made the same (no need for bespoke manufacturing, keeping costs down), with a self-adjusting mechanism so they can be quickly and easily installed regardless of the level of the ground. This also makes for a simple and effective install, reducing the amount of time required on site for the installation.  
  • Durability. By selecting the most durable railing system, any repairs and maintenance will be minimised. The Tangorail panels and posts have an anti-corrosion coating, which reduces the need for repairs, and the smooth finish makes it more resistant to dirt than other options.  
  • RailsThese are important to help prevent damage from climbing. The Tangorail railings have horizontal rails as standard.  
  • Aesthetics. Fencing and railings are not often thought of as attractive or eye catching, however they should be as they form part of the play environment. Having attractive bright colours in the surroundings, can form part of a stimulating, bright and happy environment for the child. Tangorail is available in a range of colours from a traditional green through to bright reds, yellows and blues. Given the unique panel system Tangorail offers, a multi-colour or tailored choice of coloured panels is not cost prohibitive. 

Heras is proud to be a member of RoSPA with a Tangorail solution that fully meets RoSPA’s expectations for play area fencing. Heras also offers complementary single and double gates that are fully RoSPA compliant, designed to accompany the Tangorail fencing. Therefore, if you are looking for a perimeter solution with play safety in mind, you know the Tangorail system will not let you down and help in the reduction of avoidable playground accidents.

Click below for further information on general play safety and Tangorail TR800: