Safety before profit, say owners of Stevenage trampoline park

Air Space in Stevenage. Picture: Air Space

Air Space in Stevenage. Picture: Air Space - Credit: Archant

Amid calls nationwide for closer regulation of the trampoline park industry, the operator of Stevenage’s Air Space has said safety should come before profit.

Oxygen Freejumping, which runs the facility at Stevenage Leisure Park, has backed the calls for safety regulation after a hospital audit in Sheffield found children were getting worse injuries at public trampoline parks than on trampolines in private gardens.

Oxygen says site operators should meet additional safety standards or close.

Chief executive David Stalker said: “Trampolining is a dynamic leisure activity that will always carry risk to the participants, similar to a number of other leisure activities – however, too many operators are not taking necessary action to minimise the risk of injury.

“We need to raise standards within the sector, and ultimately take tougher action on the operators who prioritise profits over customer safety.”

Mr Stalker added that with UK obesity rates at an all-time high, trampolining could help tackle the childhood inactivity problem – but that for this to happen, the industry had to focus on creating a safer environment for users.

There are no safety regulations specifically for trampoline parks. A voluntary standard was launched in 2017 by the British Standards Institute, working with the International Association of Trampoline Parks, British Gymnastics and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

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Oxygen is signed up to this standard – and a spokesman for the company said it had gone even further, putting in place several measures it felt the whole sector should now meet.

These include more training for staff, requiring procedures to be approved by the local environmental health agency, and restricting size and placement of trampoline areas and foam pits.

On the subject of further regulation, IATP chairman Peter Brown told the BBC: “The only way it would work would be the government setting legislation. I can’t see them doing that, but if they did we would not be averse to that happening.”

He added that under half of existing parks were IATP members, and that all members would have to meet its standard by August to gain or renew membership.

The number of trampoline parks in the UK has rocketed from three in 2014 to about 200. The IATP estimates there are about 15 million users a year.