Jumping the gun
At Your Leisure Autumn 2018
With a huge increase in trampoline park accidents, we take a look at preventable measures to help defend claims.
The number of trampoline parks in the UK has increased by an incredible 3,000% since 2014. As reported by the BBC, this surge in growth has seen a correlating increase in related accidents and injuries, with 1,181 ambulance call-outs to parks across England in 2017 alone.
Added to this powder keg, regulations for trampoline centres have not developed and kept pace with the growth of the industry.
Recognising the need for regulations in this area, the British Standards Institution has developed voluntary standards (BSI PAS 5000) with sponsorship from the International Association of Trampoline
Parks. As of August 2017, UK parks have been required to demonstrate compliance with these regulations in order to join the UKIATP.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has also stated they would like to see all existing commercial trampoline centres declare compliance with these regulations.
Obviously, this explosion of sites and injuries has resulted in the insurance industry dealing with far more trampoline park claims than in 2014 when there were only three parks in the entire country.
As is always the case, the best way to avoid potential claims is through the prevention of accidents and injuries. PAS 5000:2017 “Specification for the construction and operation of a fixed indoor trampoline park” has generally proven to be effective guidance for this.
Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s records of trampoline injuries over a six-month period revealed that the most common cause was bad landings, accounting for 63%. It’s therefore important for insurers and operators to do everything possible to prevent such incidents occurring, in the process aiding a defence should a claim be lodged.
Even if operators follow BSI PAS 5000 to the letter, whilst installing all the extra safety measures imaginable, no system is foolproof and accidents will undoubtedly occur, with potential claims to follow.
Here are just some of the basic elements to review when considering the safety of customers and compliance with regulations.
A dynamic risk assessment is an essential piece of documentation for the operator of any trampoline park, with BSI PAS 5000 specifying a need for site-specific assessments which are accessible to all employees. To ensure the defensibility of any claim, all assessments must be documented and safely archived for future reference.
Children should be accompanied by a supervising adult who should be aware of their responsibility to supervise. BSI PAS 5000 states that, although CCTV can be useful for reviewing incidents, it should not be considered a substitute for staff, who should be on hand to supervise and intervene with customers if necessary.
When accidents occur, it’s important that staff members can be relied upon to provide statements that accurately reflect what has occurred. Relevant training material and records should also be maintained.
Operators must consider how the correct and safe use of equipment can be guaranteed. This will need to include guidance offered to customers along with prohibited activities which would result in intervention from staff. Bear in mind how these rules will be conveyed to customers with visual cues or reminders within the activity area.
Customers should be adequately briefed prior to use of the facilities with the following factors in mind:
Customer age and comprehension
Will a 10 year old have the attention span to understand a three page document or are they more likely to skim through it in their excitement to get started?
Medium – how the brief is conveyed
Would a verbal briefing or even supervised video briefing be more effective than a document customers have to read before using the equipment?
Is the most important information being conveyed as clearly as possible?
Do you have written confirmation that customers have received the pre-use briefing? We cannot contract away the liability of an operator for their customer’s safety, but we can, via a signature, confirm that those customers have been briefed prior to use of the equipment.
The equipment must be safe, well maintained and regularly inspected. This must all be documented to ensure that general upkeep is monitored and up to date. Section 4.2 of BSI PAS 5000 specifies that operators of trampoline parks must ensure their chosen manufacturers provide them with an operation and maintenance manual to assist with upkeep.
An extensive portion of BSI PAS 5000 is dedicated to the construction of park equipment, with height, width and even angular regulations provided. Operators should try and ensure manufacturers compliance with these regulations whilst the ground under the bouncing equipment should be soft and the area well lit.
Although this is a relatively brief overview, our guide should help provide a starting point to ensure compliance in the event of a claim.
For more information, please contact, Beth McNally