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September 24, 2009

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Guidance- children’s play provision

Managing risk in play provision: an implementation guide was commissioned by the Play Safety Forum – a grouping of national agencies involved in play safety – and is published by Play England, with the support of the Department for Media, Culture and Sport. The guide is aimed at those responsible for managing play provision, but it should also be useful for those who manage other spaces and settings in which children play, such as school playgrounds, parks, open spaces, civic spaces, adventure playgrounds, wheeled sports facilities, and sports and leisure services.The guide is in three parts. Part 1 sets out the context and gives the background and reasons behind the approach taken. Part 2 gives practical advice and guidance on how this approach can be put into practice, while Part 3 looks at policy issues. Play providers are legally required to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of their provision, and the guide outlines a ‘risk-benefit assessment’ approach, which is essentially an assessment of the benefits and risks of the activity, with a focus on the hazards that are likely to cause real harm. The guide’s aim is to not create a totally risk-free environment but to ensure that duty-holders identify, log and action all reasonable precautions to avoid injury. It contains practical examples – both real and hypothetical – of risk-benefit assessments, such as Thurrock Council’s approach to fencing play areas, and ‘Cutsyke Play Forest’ – a play space in West Yorkshire where non-conforming structures have been installed.The guide is clear that the risk-benefit assessment process should enable duty-holders to provide a sound and reasonable defence against claims: “Providers who follow the approach set out here should be able to mount a sound and reasonable defence against liability claims and prosecutions, and hence defend their organisation’s assets and reputation.”It is available to download at www.playengland.org.uk/resources

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