Public ball game areas are recreational facilities that are accessible by all but particularly by young people. Therefore it is important that they are safe and appropriate for their purpose.
Consumer safety legislation covers public ball game areas maintained by municipalities but also ball game areas located in the grounds of educational institutions and housing companies, and individual pieces of equipment in them, such as football goals and basketball hoop systems. According to the Finnish Consumer Safety Act, they must not pose risk to users.
Owners’ and maintenance organisations’ safety responsibilities
Owners and maintenance organisations must make sure ball game areas and equipment used in them are safe. This is best ensured through efficient self-control by owners and maintenance organisations. Self-control means measures taken by owners and maintenance organisations to ensure the safety of ball game areas and equipment in them in a planned and organised manner. (To read more about self-control see the Tukes website section ”A self-control system for organising consumer services”.)
The safety of public ball game areas is affected by issues including:
- the placement of equipment in the area (for example, football goals must not be placed on a slanted surface that may facilitate the goal tipping over);
- the placement of the area in relation to other functions (transport routes and water bodies);
- the suitability of the area for the purpose (no rocks, holes or tree stumps, etc.).
It is recommendable to have an information board in public ball game areas.
Equipment used in public ball game areas, such as football goals and basketball hoop systems, must be safe and suitable for the purpose. Equipment must be installed correctly and in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The structural safety of equipment must be ensured throughout its useful life.
Sufficient equipment maintenance and regular equipment inspections must also be ensured through measures including the following self-control measures:
- drawing up an inspection and maintenance plan for public ball game areas and keeping a log of equipment inspections and maintenance;
- inspecting and maintaining equipment and their parts in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer and in compliance with the appropriate inspection and maintenance schedule;
- regularly checking any impacts of events such as vandalism and addressing any problems;
- taking care of the safe temporary and long-term storage of equipment (unauthorised use of equipment during storage should be prevented through measures such as locking football goals onto each other).
Manufacturers, importers and retailers are responsible for the safety of equipment intended for use in public ball game areas. They must know the hazards and risks involved with the equipment. Manufacturers, importers and retailers must familiarise themselves with the requirements set for equipment and any changes taking place in them. Equipment must be manufactured in conformity with relevant regulations, and manufacturers must provide instructions for installation and maintenance personnel. The same safety principles must be complied with in the manufacture of self-made equipment as well.