Big jump in trampoline injuries despite safety measures

Trampoline safety measures not making kids safer.
Trampoline safety measures not making kids safer. Photo: Getty

With safety nets, covered springs and extra padding, it's easy to believe trampolines are much safer now than they were for previous generations of children.

However it turns out the opposite could actually be true.

New figures have revealed the number of children being hospitalised with trampoline injuries is going up despite improved product safety standards.

Researchers say this may be partly because netted enclosures give parents a false sense of security when it comes to their children's safety on a trampoline..

"(There is) no evidence of an observable effect of voluntary Australian standards for trampoline safety on population rates for trampoline injury," the researchers write.

"The major design modification – netted enclosures – could contribute to the risk of injury by leading parents to falsely believe that a netted enclosure eradicates the risk of injury."

The study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, found that on average, there were 1737 trampoline injuries reported nationally each year from 2002 to 2011.

They increased from 1392 cases in 2002/03 to 1982 in 2010/11, with the highest number of 2098 being recorded in 2008/09.

The frequency and rate is highest for children aged five to nine.

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The researchers, from Monash University, Flinders University and UTS, said that despite improved product standards, including safety enclosure netting, the expected drop in injuries hadn't eventuated.

Falls caused the most accidents, with 81 per cent resulting in a fracture, usually to arms.

Non-fall injuries, mainly colliding with another user or over-exertion, was also dominated by fractures, but mainly to legs.

In response to the increase in trampoline injuries, a revised Australian mandatory standard is due to be introduced in two stages.

"Trampoline-related injuries can, and will continue to, occur on products that fully comply with the mandated Standard. For example, the introduction of safety enclosures – a design feature to reduce injuries – may have had the unintended consequence of increasing risk to younger users," the researchers said. 

"It is thus important that the product mandating be coupled or linked to other injury prevention strategies such as public awareness and education.

"In addition, the buy-back and destruction of old and dangerous products would accelerate the reduction in injuries.

"Timely product recalls on any trampolines that are found to not comply with the Standard would encourage and reward manufacturers who do comply, while penalising those who do not."

According to Choice.com.au trampolines are the second biggest cause of hospital-treated injuries on play equipment, coming just behind monkey bars.

Kidsafe WA advises parents the best way to ensure safety is to always supervise children while they are on a trampoline.

A statement on the organisation's website says parents and carers should also: 

  • Make sure there is only one person at a time on the trampoline
  • Take note of the age recommendation in the trampoline manual
  • Make sure the surrounding area is free of hazards
  • Ensure the surface under and around the trampoline is soft, for example grass or sand 
  • Check the trampoline for wear and tear before every use 
  • Make sure there is no one under the trampoline before using it 
  • Use a safety net or enclosure 
  • Use padding to cover the springs and frame 
  • Do not let children try risky stunts 
  • Ensure children bounce in the centre of the trampoline 
  • Do not allow children to jump off the trampoline to get down 
  • Make sure any ladders or steps are removable to prevent small children from accessing the trampoline without supervision