Inspire : Public Works Nov Dec 2012
42 Public Works Professional November-December 2012 CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION Have your say on this story. Go to http://goo.gl/qOqgn to comment on this article. THE IMPORTANCE OF RISK IN CHILD'S PLAY It is becoming more accepted that allowing children to take some risks is vital to their development. Playground designers walk the ne line of providing an opportunity for children to engage in risk, while protecting them from serious harm. "We don't want to cotton wool them or they won't grow and develop," Associate Professor Eager says. "We want them to fall some times. Even the occasional broken bone is acceptable. "In fact that is written into our standards. Death is unacceptable, permanent injury is unacceptable, but the occasional broken bone is acceptable. "As engineers would know, we can't make roads that are absolutely safe where nobody has an accident. In recent times we have lived in a bit of a nanny state when it came to playgrounds. But now councils are starting to take a bit more risk in what they are putting in and we are not seeing a rise in the injury level because of it." of fall. As long as the impact-attenuating surface can absorb the fall, it is acceptable. Disability access is another difference between the American and European standards that will have to be reconciled. "In Australia, not every playground has to comply with disability access, which means councils can dedicate their limited resources to having one or more quality regional playground," Eager adds. "In America, every playground must comply with disability access rules, including the size of the decks and ramps and the inclination of those ramps." The common ground between the two major global standards, however, is in the rules surrounding entrapment. The standards have common tests for bound openings where a child might become trapped at the neck or chest. No opening at a playground above 600 millimetres may be between 230 millimetres and 89 millimetres wide. There are also r ules around fnger entrapment, with the same test probes used in Australia as are used in the USA and Europe. The third major point of similarity in these tests is the prevention of entrapment of a child's clothing, such as a toggle on a hat or jacket, becoming trapped and effectively hanging the child. One area where Eager hopes to infuence the committee is the standards for roundabouts, or carrousels as they are known in Europe. While he said roundabouts are fne for playgrounds, the impact attenuation around them should be able to absorb the same impact as a two-metre fall, which is equivalent to the force exerted on a child fung from a moving roundabout. The European standard only requires that soft falls around a carrousel absorb the impact of the fall directly to the ground, even though they can rotate at speeds up to fve metres per second. Where a country might want to differ from an ISO, they can have what are called ZZ appendices, where a country can add provisions specifc to their region. "I am hoping our ZZ appendices will be minimal and we will be able to align the Australian Standard as closely as possible to the ISO,” Eager says. ••• [COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE PARKS & LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT ] In Australia, not every playground has to comply with disability access, which means councils can dedicate their limited resources to having one or more quality regional playground.
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