An outdoor exercise area refers to exercise equipment installed permanently outdoors for public use. Among other things, an outdoor exercise area can have weight stack equipment, steppers, balance equipment, crossfit rigs or other body weight equipment. The service provider is responsible for the safety of the outdoor exercise area.
Documents in order!
If the outdoor exercise area has significant risks, draw up a safety document. Factors important in risk assessment include:
- Size of the area
- Terrain and environmental conditions
- The equipment in use and their number of pieces
- The purpose of use of the area, such as what kind of activities the area and its surroundings have
- User groups, e.g. children, young people, adults or the elderly
- The number of users.
For example, a safety document must be drawn up on an outdoor exercise area with many visitors, where there are also many challenging pieces of equipment available for fitness and strength training.
On the other hand, it may not be necessary to draw up a safety document for a senior park, where simple equipment intended primarily for balancing is used. However, drawing up a safety document is recommended, even if it was not a legal obligation.
Identify the risks
Identify the risks for the users and make sure that the exercise area is safe. All outdoor exercise areas must be safe for their users. In identifying risks, you can use the tools created by Tukes to assist you, for example
What to take into account in the planning
Set the outdoor exercise equipment clearly apart from playground equipment, if it is not completely certain that the outdoor exercise equipment is safe for children. Concerning the placement, make sure that children cannot enter an exercise area that is not suitable for children while they play without noticing it.
The children and their parents may not be able to tell outdoor exercise equipment apart from the playground equipment. Even equipment that fulfils equipment-specific safety requirements may be hazardous, if it is placed or used carelessly or against the instructions for use.
Technical report CEN/TR 16879:2016 provides instructions on the siting and separation of playgrounds and other recreational areas.
Requirements on the equipment
Outdoor exercise equipment must be safe. If the outdoor exercise equipment does not contain electrical or pressure equipment, the Consumer Safety Act alone shall apply to the equipment. Outdoor exercise equipment like this is not a product with a CE marking, and it must not be CE marked.
If electrical or pressure equipment are used in outdoor exercise equipment, the equipment must also comply with the special legislation related to electrical and pressure equipment in addition to the Consumer Safety Act. Such outdoor exercise equipment may have CE markings related to electrical or pressure equipment.
Maintenance and upkeep
Ensure the safety of outdoor exercise equipment throughout its service life. Monitor the condition, defects and wear and tear of the equipment through routine visual inspections. Regularly carry out more detailed inspections and the required maintenance and upkeep in accordance with the instructions of the equipment manufacturer. If there are no manufacturer’s instructions, estimate a sufficient frequency and level of detail for the inspections yourself based on the special characteristics and hazards of the outdoor exercise area. Keep a record of the inspections, maintenance and repairs carried out.
Complying with standards in the design and procurement of outdoor exercise equipment is one way to ensure that the equipment fulfils the safety requirements prescribed by law. Outdoor exercise equipment is subject to the European standard EN 16630.
If the outdoor exercise equipment is located in connection with a playground or used by children and young people for other reasons, it must fulfil the requirements of the standards EN 1176 and EN 1177 concerning playgrounds.
If the standards have not been followed, the service provider must be able to prove that a level of safety that matches the standards at minimum has been achieved by other ways, if necessary. Standards can be purchased from the Finnish Standards Association SFS
Providing information to the users
Place the information board of the outdoor exercise area in a central and highly visible location. Provide the users at least the following information:
- Name of the outdoor exercise area
- The exact location, such as street address, for calling for help
- Emergency number 112
- Contact information of the party managing the area or the party responsible for the maintenance
- Instructions on how to report accidents, broken equipment or other safety defects.
Provide the operating instructions for the outdoor exercise equipment as well as other instructions both in Finnish and in Swedish. You can also use images and symbols.
Good safety practices for outdoor exercise areas
- Design the outdoor exercise area so that it is safe.
- Assess whether the outdoor exercise area has significant risks to the users or outsiders.
- Based on the previous section, assess whether drawing up a safety document for the outdoor exercise area is necessary
- Set the outdoor exercise equipment clearly apart from the playground equipment, unless you are certain that it is safe for children.
- Install the exercise equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Provide the users with sufficient instructions on how to use the equipment safely, report defects and act in case of an emergency.
- Make sure that the equipment is in working order. Inspect and maintain it regularly. Keep maintenance records.
- Keep a record of accidents and incidents.
- Report serious accidents to Tukes and, if necessary, to the equipment manufacturer.
- Improve the safety of the area based on observations and user experiences.