Children's play space and safety management: rethinking the role of play equipment standards

Spiegal, Bernard and Gill, Tim R. and Harbottle, Harry and Ball, David J. (2014) Children's play space and safety management: rethinking the role of play equipment standards. SAGE Open, 4 (1). ISSN 2158-2440

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Abstract

The provision of stimulating and engaging play space for children and young people is increasingly recognized as an important societal goal, not the least because it provides the young with opportunities to develop and gain experience in experimenting with risk. Research in several disciplines now suggests that achievement of this goal has however been impeded in recent decades, and reasons commonly cited have included fear of injury and avoidance of litigation. International standards on play equipment have also been promulgated and justified in terms of securing young people’s “safety,” most usually narrowly defined as injury reduction. There appears to be a widespread presumption that measures aimed at injury prevention are necessarily beneficial overall for young people’s welfare. In this article, we subject European standards for play equipment and surfacing to scrutiny. In particular, we examine underlying motives, consistency of purpose, use of evidence, philosophical leanings, scope, practicalities of application, systems of management, and legal ramifications. From this, we identify a number of fundamental issues that suggest that as a consequence of compartmentalized thinking and misunderstandings, these standards have invaded areas of decision making beyond their legitimate territory. The consequence of this is that play provision is skewed away from what are properly play provision objectives. In such circumstances, local decision makers are often disempowered, and their ability to provide optimal play spaces thereby circumscribed.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management (DARM)
Item ID: 16752
Notes on copyright: © The Author(s) 2014 This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/openaccess.htm).
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Depositing User: David Ball
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2015 10:24
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2018 10:23
URI: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/16752

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