Skateparks provide a safe and controlled environment for skating. As with any sport, there are inherent risks involved and a chance of injury for any participant. As a skatepark owner, you must pay appropriate attention to the safety measures that you put in place to minimize the risks that you can control to ensure that your park is as safe as possible.
Keeping your skatepark as safe as possible is a priority. Many insurance carriers will require a specific set of safety measures to be in place before they would even consider providing liability insurance. Safety measures for your park include design elements, housekeeping, Rules and Security.
How you design your park is important. From the skate elements to the amenities that you include, you can ensure a safer experience for both participants and spectators.
Your park should be well lit. Make sure that there is proper lighting both in the park and all areas inside.
Outdoor parks should have installed drains to prevent the puddling of water. Drain covers should be inspected to make sure that the edges are flush to the surface and no corners are sticking up, nor should the drain cover be loose.
Loose articles are a hazard, both in the park itself and in the spectator area. Providing lockers is a good way for skate park participants to have a secure place to store belongings to keep them off the floor. Locking skateboard racks are also an element to consider so that there is a place to store skateboards when not in active use in the park.
You can expect injuries from falling at a skatepark. You want to make sure that there are first aid stations located throughout that the staff can easily access for minor cuts. Along with first aid, you should also have written protocols for injuries. Clearly defined rules about how to handle injuries should be in the employment manual and followed strictly.
In order to allow a safe skating experience for all ages and skill levels, you should have clearly designated skill levels for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels. Color coding or clearly posted skill levels should be easy to see and clearly visible on all elements in the area.
Your spectator area should be kept separate from the skatepark with a clearly defined boundary with adequate spacing from the fenced skate park area and the spectator area.
Any items should be secured to the floor or made secure as to not be moved. This includes benches, chairs, tables, and trash cans. Nothing should be able to be moved into the skatepark area itself.
If you do not have an area for concessions, at a minimum, provide drinking fountains and/or vending machines.
Good housekeeping and maintenance protocols are vital to the safe operation of your skatepark.
Irregular surfaces are a cause of the majority of skateboarder injuries. Your skatepark elements should be inspected daily to look for any broken elements in the skatepark itself. Look for rough, cracked or broken concrete surfaces, spaces between the ramps and the ground, bent railings, loose bolts or brackets, etc. Any irregularities or damage needs to be promptly fixed before allowing that section of the park to be used.
Keeping a written inspection checklist and a log is important and helps make sure that nothing is overlooked. In addition to a daily inspection log and checklist, maintenance records should be kept as well. Have procedures in place for daily inspections, as well as how to report and handle any broken elements that occur while the park is in use, including restricting access to the element that is broken or damaged and who staff should report the damage to in order to facilitate repairs.
Spectator areas, walkways, bathrooms, and any amenities such as rentals or concessions, should also have inspection checklists and should be frequently checked for cleanliness with a daily check for any broken or damaged furniture or fixtures. If you have rentals, all rented equipment should be inspected and logged each time it is turned back in for what condition it was returned in and if it needs to be replaced or repaired.
Rules and Security
Your set rules and regulations, and how your park enforces them are vital safety measures.
Waivers must be signed by all entering the skatepark, even if just going to watch and not skate. Because of the inherent risk in skateboarding, signed waivers will be a record that each person assumed the risk of entering the skatepark. Minors must have a parent with them who will sign the waiver on their behalf. Children under a certain age should have a parent accompany them while skating. The waiver should be on the admission ticket or handed to each person after they sign, along with a written copy of the rules of the park that they agree to abide by.
Posted rules are important. In addition to having each participant reading the rules when they sign the entrance waiver, the posted rules are visible reminders of the safety rules. Rules should be highly visible and with large enough font to be easily read from a distance. Some important rules are:
- Absolutely no running or horseplay
- One person at a time per ramp
- No food or drink in the skating area
- No spectators in the skate area
- Riders under a certain age must be accompanied by an adult
- Personal Protection equipment must be worn
- No Pets
- No Smoking
- No loose items in the skatepark
Staff should be keeping an eye on the skatepark at all times to ensure the rules are followed. Anybody not complying with rules should be immediately removed.
Safety Equipment such as helmets and pads help to provide injury. They should be worn by participants of all ages and this should be clearly posted and enforced. At a minimum, any participant under 18 should be required to have pads and a helmet on. A rental kiosk for equipment is a good idea, and there should be a separate rental waiver for any protective safety equipment, as well as any rented skateboards.
Through safety measures, you can minimize incidents and reduce your liability greatly.