Shropshire Council

Children's play areas

This page contains information and guidance on the main hazards associated with play areas and play centres.


Play areas should:

  • Be easily accessed by children and adults
  • Have access routes and play areas being overlooked
  • Have barriers to restrict direct access from play areas to car parks and roads
  • Be well drained and have hazard free surroundings

Layout/design of area

Sufficient circulation space between equipment should be provided to prevent entrapment and accidental collision.


Equipment intended for permanent outdoor installation should carry the appropriate kite mark. Competent installers should carry out installation to the manufacturers/suppliers instructions.


It's recommended that impact-absorbing surfaces be used where the fall from equipment is greater than 60cms. If loose-fill surfaces are provided, allowance should be made for regular cleaning, maintenance and replenishment.

Inspections and maintenance

A comprehensive documented inspection and maintenance programme should be implemented. There are three categories of inspection:

  • Daily
  • One to three-monthly
  • A full-certified inspection at intervals not exceeding 12 months.

Reputable manufacturer/suppliers and independent organisations offer certified inspections. Full records of inspections should be filed.

Emergency procedures

Accident books, public liability insurance and the availability of first aid facilities should be considered.

Dog fouling

Measures should be taken to prevent dog fouling of play areas by fencing, self-closing gates and warning signage to dog owners.

Indoor play centres

The following control measures should be considered when conducting a risk assessment:

  • The level of adult supervision (one adult to 30 children)
  • Appropriate length of play sessions
  • Appropriate age and size limits
  • Safety rules promoted through signage
  • Capacity limits
  • The control of unsafe and inappropriate child behaviour

Inflatable - bouncy castles

Currently, the Health & Safety Executive supports the work of two inspection schemes, namely ADIPS and PIPA. Both of these are independent voluntary schemes, funded and run by industry members.

While compliance can be achieved using other equally effective means, the HSE is content that when an operator or other duty holder has their inflatable devices examined by an inspector who is registered with either of these schemes, they will normally have done enough to comply with the relevant part of their duties under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.


All premises which are wholly or substantially enclosed and used as a place of work by more than one person are now smoke-free. 'No smoking' signs must be displayed at the public entrance to the premises.

Take reasonable steps to ensure that staff, customers etc are aware that smoking is not permitted. Also, policies need to be in place to ensure that no one smokes in smoke-free premises or vehicles.

For further information, please contact the Health and Safety Team via the details on this page.