Playground equipment safety

13 March 2020

If you are responsible for playground equipment, you will need to ensure it is safe to use and properly maintained.

Colourful swings in a line

What is playground equipment?

‘Playground equipment’ is any permanently fixed item used for indoor or outdoor play. Examples include climbing frames, swings, slides and roundabouts. This equipment can be used indoors too and here similar precautions will be needed.

Playground equipment: your legal responsibilities

Most organisations who provide play equipment will have specific responsibilities under health and safety law. This includes general duties set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

You may need to:

  • make sure that equipment complies with relevant standards when purchased and is properly installed
  • complete a risk assessment if you are an employer to identify the precautions you need to take
  • implement adequate precautions, providing information and training for any staff to ensure that it is used safely
  • make periodic checks and regular inspections to ensure that it remains safe to use
  • document your arrangements and responsibilities for preventing accidents with play equipment, perhaps as part of your health and safety policy where one is required to comply with health and safety law
  • keep records of what you have done.

More information can be found in our playground equipment guidance notes.

Playground equipment: manufacturing standards

Any equipment provided needs to meet the required standards and be properly installed.

The two main standards associated with playground equipment are:

  • BS EN 1176: Playground Equipment and Surfacing
  • BS EN 1177: Impact Attenuating Playground Surfacing, Determination of Critical Fall Height.

BS EN 1176 is not retrospective. So, older equipment, might meet previous standards such as BS 5696 or DIN 7926. For other items, organisations may need to look for evidence that it has undergone third party testing (e.g. equipment may carry a TüV certificate or a BSI Kitemark).

Want to know more?

Other useful health and safety information is available in our risk management hub.