What does the law require
In broad terms, playgrounds and other play provision are governed by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and the Occupiers’ Liability Acts 1957 and 1984. These Acts impose a duty of care on providers and occupiers. These pieces of legislation, and related regulations, imply a similar level of care, captured in the notion of ‘reasonableness’.
The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 also states that ‘an occupier must be prepared for children to be less careful than adults.’ However, court judgements show that the courts do not view children as being careless, incapable or vulnerable in an absolute sense. There is no legal requirement to eliminate or minimise risk, even where children are concerned.
In practice providers are required to carry out a ‘suitable and sufficient risk assessment’, and to act on its findings. There is no requirement under statute to comply with industry standards or guidelines, although relevant information should always be considered as one part of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.