Policy issues and risk-benefit trade-offs of 'safer surfacing' for children's playgrounds

Accid Anal Prev. 2004 Jul;36(4):661-70. doi: 10.1016/S0001-4575(03)00088-5.


The case for the universal application of 'safer surfacing' in playgrounds is assessed in terms of absolute risk, cost-benefit, and qualitative factors, and found to be open to question on each front. In parallel, it is noted that members of the child welfare and play communities are increasingly of the view that playgrounds are losing their appeal for children, which in turn has its own health, safety and developmental consequences. In part, this loss of attractiveness may have linkages with the recent concern over play safety and the imposition of measures such as 'safer surfacing'. It is proposed that the drive for play safety, which has existed for some 20 years, should be succeeded by a more holistic approach which, rather than considering play safety in isolation, acknowledges the importance of all attributes of play including child safety both on and off playgrounds, potential beneficial aspects of childhood risk exposure, adventure, and play value.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Construction Materials
  • Environment Design*
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Management*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*