Falls from playground equipment: Will the new Australian playground safety standard make a difference and how will we tell?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 2007, 18 (2), pp. 98 - 104
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Issue addressed: This study describes the trend in incidence of hospitalised falls from playground equipment of children aged 14 years or less in New South Wales (NSW) and considers the potential effectiveness of playground safety standards in reducing the impact of playground-related injuries. Method: Hospitalisations of children aged 14 years or less following a fall from playground equipment were identified from the NSW hospitalisation data for the financial years 1992/93 to 2003/04 and described. Results: During 1992/93 to 2003/04 there were 16,828 hospitalisations of children aged 0-14 years as a result of a fall from playground equipment, at a rate of 106.6 per 100,000 children. The incidence of hospitalisation increased from 83.3 to 130.3 per 100,000 children between 1992/93 to 2003/04. Males aged 5-9 years had the highest rate of hospitalisation at 198.4 per 100,000 children. Injury type varied by age group, but injuries to the elbow and forearm were common for all age groups. The rate of upper limb fractures that resulted in hospitalisation increased, while the rate of serious head injuries decreased. Conclusions: While severe head injuries have declined between 1992/93 to 2003/04, the increasing trend of upper limb fractures is of concern. Many factors need to be taken into account to assess the effectiveness of playground safety standards. The collection of exposure data is also crucial to be able to calculate the true risk associated with childhood falls from playground equipment.
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