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Trampoline Parks - accidents waiting to happen?

View profile for Hannah Carr
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For many people, indoor trampoline parks are a great way to have fun and exercise at the same time; appealing to both adults and children alike. However, using a trampoline park is not without its risks and, for some, it can result in serious, life-changing injuries.

According to BBC News, in 2017, ambulances were called out to 1,181 incidents at trampoline parks across England – that equates to more than three call-outs per day.

A study undertaken in collaboration with Sheffield Children’s Hospital over a 6 month period suggested that people injured at trampoline parks require ‘more treatment’ than those hurt on trampolines in private gardens.  It treated 198 people with trampoline injuries over a six month period, with 44% of those treated for injuries sustained at parks suffering fractures, compared to 36% for home trampolines.  The most common category for all trampoline injuries was bad landings at 63%.

In recent years, trampoline parks have become extremely popular. The number of parks in the UK has grown from three in 2014 to an estimated 200 and the International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP) estimates the number of users be around 15 million a year.

Unfortunately, trampoline parks are not currently formally regulated or subject to any mandatory safety regulations; and so, arguably, there is a risk that some parks could fail to abide by basic safety precautions, which may go some way in accounting for the increasing number of trampoline related injuries.

The legal position

Many people assume the waiver they are asked to sign on entry to trampoline parks prevents them from making a legal claim if something goes wrong. However, this is not necessarily the case. In particular, liability for causing personal injury cannot be legally excluded.

Of course, using a trampoline is arguably an inherently dangerous activity with the risk of injury a recognised outcome.  Care must always be taken by people using trampoline equipment and the companies running trampoline parks are entitled to expect people to act reasonably and not take unnecessary risks. 

However, this does not give the parks immunity from civil claims made when avoidable accidents occur. For example, if a park fails to provide a safety briefing; supervision measures fall short; allow too many people to bounce on the equipment at any one time, or fails to maintain equipment to ensure it is not dangerous or defective in any way.

A case for regulation?

A voluntary standard for trampoline parks was published in June 2017.  Developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI) working with the IATP, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and British Gymnastics, the guidelines identify the key risks at both the design and operational stages of the park.

While the guidelines are a step forward for improving safety, it’s clear the risk for users cannot be entirely removed.  The key point is that there are plenty of steps trampoline parks can take to minimise the risk of injury.

There are some who would argue against the regulation of trampoline parks amid accusations of ‘health and safety gone mad’. While the number of people injured at trampoline parks is a fraction of the high number of visitors to such parks each year, the fact of the matter is that there are many people have sustained serious life changing injuries, such as fractured spines resulting in paralysis as a result of trampolining accidents.

The question to ask is: would I be prepared to allow myself or a family member to risk serious injury in an uncontrolled and unregulated environment?’  The answer, it seems to me, must be a resounding ‘no’.

 

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