Trampoline park inspections begin following safety concerns
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Increasing numbers of people (including both adults and children) are flocking to trampoline parks, enjoying the fun and freedom of bouncing around. The craze, which started in the USA, has led around 150 trampoline parks opening in the UK since 2014.
However, concerns have been raised about the safety of such venues after a Freedom of Information request revealed that in a 12-month period there had been 315 ambulance call outs to just 30 of the parks.
Not all parks had the same number of call outs. One of the smaller parks, with just 25,000 visitors annually, had no call outs across the period, but one had to call an ambulance every week to treat trampoline accident-related injuries in the first few months after opening.
Another, with over 200,000 annual visitors, is under investigation after 3 people sustained broken vertebrae on the same day.
Serious injuries such as broken backs, can be life changing, and broken legs (the most common injury) may have long lasting impact on a person's life. Even less serious injuries can cause pain and suffering.
Customers who have sustained injuries on a trampoline have reported that even though they followed the instructions given in the health and safety videos that all participants are required to watch, they still landed awkwardly.
New standards to reduce trampoline park accidents
In March 2017, the IATP (International Association of Trampoline Parks), trampolining's chief industry body, asked the BSI (British Standards Institution) to publish new standards for previously unregulated trampoline parks.
The new standards included rules on specific safety features and minimum specifications for the number of stewards to supervise.
In addition, a Publicly Accessible Specification (PAS) was launched by members of the UK IATP, BSI and RoSPA, with guidelines to help park managers identify the key risks at both the design and operational stages.
The specification aims to establish an effective approach to managing the risk of injury to customers and staff, although the risk of trampoline accidents will not be completely removed.
Room for improvement
The CEO at one park admitted it had got the original design of its park wrong, with open spaces allowing speed to be gained, resulting in more injuries. The layout has now been changed and designs for its future parks include zoning trampolines into smaller areas.
The chair of the UK IATP, Peter Brown, stated that many parks were already up to standard, and that any issues would be put right within a reasonable time frame. Where there were severe risks the parks would have to close until the problems were fixed.
Another spokesman said that trampoline parks should be compared with other "risky" activities, claiming that the number of injuries was a tiny percentage of the number of customers.
Timeline for new rules
From August 2017, all parks will have to demonstrate compliance to the PAS to become members of the UK IATP.
RoSPA asked that all existing commercial trampoline centres, regardless of IATP membership, declare their compliance by September 2018. All new build locations must do the same prior to opening or at the earliest practicable point thereafter.
IATP BSI PAS 5000. International Association of Trampoline Parks, 2017.
Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.