Trampoline park health benefits outweigh 'very small' safety risk, insists Sheffield operator

Jump-INC, which opened at Meadowhall in December 2016
Jump-INC, which opened at Meadowhall in December 2016
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A trampoline park operator in Sheffield insists the 'huge' benefits to children's health massively outweigh the 'very small' risk of accidents, in the wake of new injury statistics.

More than 250,000 people have visited Jump-INC's Meadowhall park since it opened in December 2016, according to owner Chris Hayes.

Jump-INC says trampolining is a great form of exercise for young people

Jump-INC says trampolining is a great form of exercise for young people

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There have been 168 accidents recorded in that time, he says, only 48 of which required professional medical intervention - a rate of less than 0.02 per cent.

"When you look at the injury figures at trampoline parks, I think it's important to put them in perspective and remember there are around 15 million customers using them each year," he said.

"If you compare the very small proportion of 'bouncers' sustaining injuries to the statistics for football and rugby it's probably much lower, but nobody's kicking and screaming about those sports.

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"I have three young children and as a parent I accept there's a risk of accidents every time they go out to play, but as long as you have the right safety measures in place the health benefits from trampolining are huge, especially at a time when we're trying to encourage young people to be more active."

Jump-INC says around 5,000 people visit its park at Meadowhall each week

Jump-INC says around 5,000 people visit its park at Meadowhall each week

Mr Hayes' comments come after a study by Sheffield Children's Hospital revealed it dealt with 198 patients who had injured themselves on trampolines during the six months from April to September last year. Of those, 130 were sustained using private equipment and the remaining 68 at indoor parks.

The hospital found 44 per cent of those treated for injuries sustained at parks had fractured bones, compared to 36 per cent of those injured at home.

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It urged all trampoline parks to ensure they meet new safety standards introduced in April last year, pointing out that only a third of the roughly 200 parks in the UK are members of the International Association of Trampoline Parks, which ensures compliance. And it encouraged parents and carers to always supervise children using a trampoline.

Dr Catherine Rimmer, paediatric emergency medicine consultant at the hospital, told the BBC: "There are a lot of trampoline parks that seem to be popping up all over the place that are neither regulated nor abide by basic safety precautions.

"I think the bigger parks are far better, but I know anyone can open a trampoline park in any kind of big open space and they're the ones parents need to be particularly careful of."

Across England, ambulances were called to nearly 1,200 incidents at trampoline parks during 2017.

Mr Hayes said Jump-INC is an IATP member, all its 'court marshals and managers are first-aid trained and it works with a third-party health and safety firm to guarantee the 'highest standards possible'.

But he claimed the sport's popularity boom had attracted a number of 'cowboy' operators and said he would welcome statutory regulation.

"When we opened our first park in 2015 it was only the 16th in the country. Today there are around 200, some of which are unfortunately run by cowboy operators looking to make a quick buck," he said.

"Those parks should not be allowed to operate and our worry is parks that are not operating to the industry guidelines are risking customers' safety," he said.

Peter Brown, chairman of the IATP UK, has said he would not be 'averse' to regulation by the Government but believed this was unlikely to happen.

The Star has also contacted Sheffield Tramp2lean and 99 Jump, both of which set out their safety procedures online, but has yet to receive a response.