Good design goes a long way in preventing injuries. We've tested 7 round trampolines against the Australian safety standard, all 10 feet in diameter and enclosed with a net.
We found 1 model that had no major safety failures. The other 6 either failed structural tests, didn’t protect the user from impact on the frame or enclosure, or had dangerous head entrapment problems or pinch points.
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In 2016, 11,580 injuries involving trampolines were reported to the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC). That’s nearly 4000 more since 2013. Many of the injuries were probably due to poor safety practices (for example, letting several kids bounce at the same time). Another factor could be there’s no longer a New Zealand safety standard for trampolines.
The standard was withdrawn in 2015 as it hadn’t been updated since 1997 – but that’s a poor excuse for not having a safety standard covering trampolines for sale in New Zealand, because good design goes a long way in preventing injuries.
We based our test of 7 trampolines on the Australian safety standard, AS 4989:2015. A voluntary standard, revised in 2015, it covers soft-edge (“springless”) and traditional trampolines. The 7 tramps in our test were all round, 10 feet in diameter, and enclosed with a net.
Our main test is a shock test of the padding or soft-edge system. We assess if they would adequately protect a child falling head first on to the pads. We also observe if the pads suffer permanent damage. We assess the structural integrity of the frame, mat and enclosure. Finally, we look for strangulation and hazards or places where fingers or limbs could get trapped, pinched or crushed around the enclosure and the edges of the trampoline.
Two testers assembled the trampolines, following instructions provided by the manufacturer. We checked out how easy the trampoline was to assemble, and how good the instructions were. We also looked at how relocatable it was once assembled, and assessed ease-of-access through the doorway in the enclosure.
Only the Springfree had no major safety failures. The other 6 either failed structural tests, didn’t protect the user from impact on the frame or enclosure, or had dangerous head entrapment problems or pinch points.
Springless soft-edge trampolines are becoming more common in the New Zealand market and are claimed to be safer because they have no metal frame or springs to hit and a more regulated bounce. However, what you gain in safety, you lose in bounce. Our testers found that the bounce on the springless soft-edge trampolines was focused in the centre of the mat. It also felt “softer” than the bounce generated by traditional metal springs.
First, do you have the right space for a trampoline? It should be placed on a level surface that’s free of hazards, such as furniture. The area around the trampoline should be covered in soft, impact-absorbing material (lawn, pine bark, wood chips or sand are good). Injuries commonly occur when mounting and dismounting.
The metal frame and springs should be padded to avoid injury if a child falls and hits them. The safety pads should be a contrasting colour to the mat – this helps define the edge of the mat more clearly. An alternative design that needs little or no padding is a soft-edge springless system, which has no steel frame or springs.
A netted enclosure helps prevent falls from the trampoline and we strongly recommend you only use trampolines that have one. The net shouldn’t be suspended from rigid, unpadded poles, as this introduces another hard object that could pose a risk. Ideally, the safety netting should be fitted on the inside of the padding as that reduces the chance of hitting the trampoline edges in the case of a fall.
A ladder or steps to help kids climb on to the trampoline isn’t necessarily a good idea. If a child is unable to get up there alone, they may not be at the right developmental stage to use a trampoline at all. So we recommend limiting access to a ladder. A ladder can be used to help kids get on and off a trampoline safely, but it should be removed when the trampoline is not in use.
Instructions need to be clear, comprehensive and complete with good text and pictures. They should specify how to assemble the trampoline, maintain it and use it safely.
Assembling a trampoline isn’t always an easy job – instructions can be complicated. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or see its website for more detailed instructions and guidance.