A new playground standard has been released which is aimed at promoting fun and enjoyment over risk aversion. Standards Australia is hoping to encourage out-door activity while developing key skills in risk taking and judgement.
In an effort to encourage children to play outdoors, Standards Australia announced significant changes to playground standards which will make playgrounds more fun, stimulating and exciting. Dr Bronwyn Evans, Chief Executive Officer, Standards Australia, said the standard is all about challenging kids and developing important skills for life. Research has confirmed that risk-taking is an essential feature of play and healthy childhood development.
The standard is therefore not intended to provide risk free play environments, but rather to enable children to perceive that they are taking greater risks, and in the process stretching and testing their limits.
AS 4685:2014 is based on decades of injury data and accident patterns that have been observed in the children population around the world. Following an extensive public comment process, Standards Australia has published the revised Playground Standards, AS 4685 Parts 1 to 6. The revised standard is an adoption of the European Standard for Playground Equipment EN 1176:2008 Parts 1 to 6 with some minor deviations that take account of specific Australian safety and design requirements such as higher UV exposure.
Even though the standard allows for more risk-taking, the standard still seeks to minimise risk of injury to children using playgrounds through the specification of minimal acceptable standards for equipment. Schools should be aware of the new standard and ensure that any playground equipment purchased is compliant with the new standard and installed in accordance with the requirements in the standard.